Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Climate Of Fear

Yesterday, I received a private email from a writer friend who has requested that their personal details not be displayed. I will honor this request. The following is a quote from this email.

"Teddy you are really nuts. I read your post in your blog called "Give Me A Break" and then I read the hilarious post about Deep Throat. I have to tell you though I thought it was funny and mostly correct - you have to be totally nuts to put that up in your blog. Don't you realize that every time you send out a query from now on, you could very well have that query land on the desk of the Rejecter or someone like her? You virtually guaranteed yourself a rejection. And to make matters worse you posted the exact same thing in Absolute Write. Aren't you afraid you are going to ruin your chances?..."

I find I must answer this very sane worry from a friend. Yes, I do realize that agents and publishers read Absolute Write (though I doubt they read my blog). And yes I do realize that any query I send out may by chance be seen by someone who recognizes my name from Absolute Write. And yes I certainly realize that may be cause for an automatic rejection and can narrow chances of success down a great deal. And yes, I am nuts to do it.

But But But...

Listen up folks. Listen well. Agents are people. Yet lately, with the abilities that Blogging does offer us (and this is not only in the field of writing), many people have taken the easy way out by hiding behind made up names and pseudonyms. And for the hundredth time I am going to say, Miss Snark should and can get away with it. But the others are riding the coattails of a fad that should never be.

Agents who hide behind anonymous names, query-letter junk-pile readers who do so, publishers who do so, are just increasing what is becoming an incredibly tense climate of fear. Since authors have no idea who is producing these blogs and postings and since they have no clue if their query or project is going to end up on the desk of one of these people, many have become fearful of voicing legitimate concerns and opinions. Just as my friend has become. We are being ruled by fear and subtle intimidation of the anonymous pseudonym monster.

Yes, I have made this one of my pet projects. You see, perhaps this is the utter foolishness of someone who decided many long years ago, that he will never be afraid of another human being. Perhaps it is an ego-centric attitude in the faith in my own intelligence coupled with a naïve faith in the intelligence and professionalism of most agents, publishers and writers out there.

If the only way a writer can voice a legitimate opinion is to stay hidden behind a pseudonym, if the only way a writer can ask a question is to make sure that absolutely nothing in that question can in any way seem to question, ask, or wonder about the process - then we have certainly fallen in deep fear to the pseudonym monster.

One day we are going to wake up and find that the blogs are populated with snide, cynical remarks from those who have power of life and death over us - all hiding behind assumed names and anonymous postings. The pseudonym monster rules supreme.

My friend's message to me was:
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

My message back:
Fear is no way to live and certainly no way to create.
I long ago decided that fearing another human being was what gave them power in the first place.

Don't be afraid. Don't live in Fear. Don't let anonymous pseudonym monsters destroy your dreams and do not let them stop you from questioning the process or wondering just how professional some of the professionals truly are.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana


Anonymous said...

Oh, AMEN to this!

Bernita said...

Plus I think we're just a little conceited if we think our words on some message board are going to so enrage some invisible agent or editor to the point they will forthwith mark us down as literary lepers.
If you live by the word, you should be willing to die by the word, sooner or later.
I refuse to be anonymous.

The Rejecter said...

I would just found this and would like to clarify something.

The reason I chose to remain anonymous when creating my blog was because of many negative experiences in the past with people hunting me down when they found out I worked in publishing. Either they try to form some kind of friendship with me that would hopefully end in me championing their manuscript despite their refusal to take out the unnecessary three-way vampire lesbian sex scene or they would try to punch me (this happened) in a hallway because they realized I was the person who could have, in theory, rejected their work. I don't want friends to punch me OR send me stories about lesbian vampires who have lots and lots of poorly-written sex.

And the correct spelling, which appears on my website, is "rejecter." The "rejector" business got started because of a typo in my original email address link and I never felt compelled to stop it because it makes me sound like a robot who destroys cities.

By the way, please say hi to Ir-HaKodesh for me, and tell it to get better gastroenterologists so I can move there.

Teddy said...

Hey Rejecter

First of all I do promise we actually have great gastroenterologists (though I must admit I dont use them!).

Bottom Line is believe it or not I do understand you. And I hear your valid statements and worry.

All that I am saying is the incredible multiplication of people who are posting and giving advice in an anonymous fashion to writers seems to have grown exponentially. And lots of that advice is pure crap.

I have no clue if you rejected a query letter of mine and for me it really does not matter. Rejection is rejection one moves on.

I just wonder if you saw this posting as well - Give Me A Break @ http://teddygross.blogspot.com/2006/10/give-me-break.html

But you know...with all that I have said...you do get 5 stars.....cause you actually did take the time to explain and not make up excuses. That is something I personally respect.

Come visit soon...