When I first heard about the Occupy Movement (which has now spread far beyond Wall Street), I was intrigued because I felt like I identified with the frustration behind it. I wasn’t sure what it stood for or wanted (and still, in ways, am not), but I was glad someone was acknowledging rampant injustice.
I still am, but I’m realizing everything’s a little more complicated than that.
I hate to say that it seems as always that the rich get richer while the poor get laid off, because that’s way more cynical than I generally tend toward, but, well, it really does seem that way, lately.
It’s kind of a shame Obama can’t just step in and say, “Guys, we just gave you $5 billion. You’re not slowing production or laying anyone off. What you’re going to do is give free cars to all the customers your banks/dealerships are denying new car loans to.”
Now that the holidays are behind and most people in most places are actually back at their desks, I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts to stuff that needs accomplishing. I decided a while ago that, just like with LA and then again with Denver, regardless of whether I managed to get into NYU, I still wanted to return to Manhattan. In the meantime, however, I of course need to make some coin, and so I’ve been looking into temporary but long-term assignments, including subbing again.
In the meantime, though, there are other things that need doin’.
Like querying. Now that the holidays are over and I’m a little less frantic than I was during the autumn, and now, too, that The Prodigal Hour is well-polished (I thought I had to give it another go-over, and so I did, and oddly, there wasn’t anything I thought I had to change. Which is pretty amazing). Today I gathered a list of agents to continue querying; the last go-round had a few requests for partials but never got beyond that (this is, of course, excluding agents who never responded to queries. There were several, from agents who surprised me. And, I mean, I know it takes time, but we’re talking several months out, now), so now it’s time for a new round. With a new query/synopsis.
And I turned my hat backward, which of course means I mean business. Like whoa.
So there’s that happening.
Admittedly, however, the idea of querying right now is daunting. Always conflicting reports about publishing; seems like every publishing company in the nation is downsizing, laying people off, and closing their doors to considering new writers and their manuscripts, but news of high advances keep filtering down the pike. Tina Fey is reportedly getting $5 million, which sort of makes sense, considering the ’08 she had, and Laura Bush apparently got high six if not low seven figures (reports vary), which also makes sense given that that novel about her the other year made a lot of coin, but I have to admit, I can’t understand Sarah Silverman’s $2.5 million advance for whatever she’s working on. I mean, the most interesting thing about her was her “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” video, wasn’t it? Is her show even still on? I haven’t read anything about it (or her, for that matter) in ages.
Still, the thing about publishing is that it’s a longer term investment even than the stock market. A novel picked up right now, even if fast-tracked, probably wouldn’t be published until the middle of next year, at least, and that would be fairly speedy.
And hopefully by then the economy will be somewhat better.
In the meantime, though, that’s what I’ll be doing. And, of course, working on new stuff.
I have to admit that in the past few years, I’ve become less interested in Christmas and holiday festivities. I’d say it began two years ago, the first Christmas I spent alone in Hollywood, but really I think it started before that. Thing is, it’s happened, in a way, to all holidays, at least for me; I’ve always been the sort of person who gets totally excited about doing things right up until the very moment you tell me I have to do them, at which point I get all stubborn like the Taurus I am and dig in my heels and refuse to budge. Thanksgiving, anymore, only makes me wonder why more people aren’t grateful every day of the year, for example, and Christmas? Christmas, just lately, only reminds me I live in a society where people shoot people in a Toys ‘R Us and frenzied shoppers trample employees at Walmart.
This particular Christmas seems particularly turbulent, in fact, mainly because of the economy. I read the comics page of the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, and no less than three of the comics contained “jokes” about the current “financial crisis.” The headlines are all over the place today; jobless claims are way up, while consumer spending is way down, and most analysts say we’re just in for tougher times ahead.
From it, Mediabistro’s Galley Cat pulls that only 2% of bloggers cite blogging and their blogs as their primary source of income.
Which sounds about right.
Mainly because: isn’t that about the same as the number of writers who make their living at writing?
I’m not. Once upon a time, I hoped to be, but then again in recent years I’ve realized that I don’t think writing is all I’d want to do. I love to write, but when it starts to become all I do, I think I feel like there’s imbalance in my life. The whole “all work and no play” thing, to some extent. I mean, I go back and forth on it, because I think that writing is playing, to some extent, but I guess what it comes down to is that writing is a largely solitary activity, and I can’t very well be in the world if I’m being all solitary and such.
I’m more surprised people are surprised by this. By Republican standards, $150,000 is an absolute bargain, considering it’s roughly half what Cindy McCain’s RNC outfit cost.
It’s become apparently newsworthy enough that the GOP is issuing statements concerning it. McCain says she needed new clothing, I guess either because she didn’t have enough, as governor of Alaska, or because everything she owned was maternity wear. They also claim all the clothes will be donated back to charity, by which I suppose they mean PUMA for Hockey Moms or somesuchlike.
To be honest, I don’t care, though I do so enjoy the fact that during the midst of an economic crisis verging on absolute collapse, John McCain can’t keep track of how many homes he earns and Sarah Palin spends very nearly more in a few weeks on clothing than I have so far earned during my entire professional career (and I’m 30. Which probably says a lot about my professional career, or sometimes lack thereof). The only thing I care about is that she’s a total hypocrite. Because here’s the Yahoo! news story in which she denies the rumors and then says that:
It’s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported.
Which reminded me a lot of this video:
From back in March when she “offered Hillary Clinton advice on how to campaign” by criticizing Clinton for a “perceived whine.”
Please may this woman disappear just as quickly as she appeared in the first place.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go early vote. And by ‘early vote,’ I mean cast my ballot for “that one.” And by “that one,” I mean Barack Obama.
I wonder about some of it. At least in terms of the two examples he uses, as both authors are still reasonably early in their careers (lives notwithstanding). Also: I know that part of Gladwell’s schtick, so to speak, is the whole Blink effect; that we decide everything right away, and I wonder if that conflicts with Chris Anderson’s idea of the long tail, i.e., selling less of more. Gladwell’s theories seem to work best on a short-term level; Hollywood blockbusters, first impressions, that kind of thing, but consider the opposite: the movie that has a modest opening but goes forever. It’s rare nowadays mainly because of quirks in distribution, but the idea of the sleeper hit used to be rather more common, I think.
Then again, maybe I wonder because I’m on the closer side to 31, which makes me feel a bit like a late bloomer. I started the novel that became The Prodigal Hour during my senior year of college, for all intents and purposes (though I’d begun the story years before), and I only actually finished it this past, what, July? August? Something like that. Over that decade, there were drafts and revisions and rewrites, over and over again.
Then again, I’m really only 30. I could still make that thirty under 35 list, and I still have a good few years for a shot at it.
But really, I think that what Gladwell misses is that it’s not a binary thing. It’s not an either/or situation, and I neither do I think it’s related to the writer, or the way writers create.
I think it’s related to the story. Some stories simply necessarily take longer than others, in telling and in execution, at least in doing them justice. Some stories take a while for gestation, and some even need to wait until you’ve got the craft to support your talent. During my twenties, I was often told I had a lot of raw talent, and really, I think it took more careful study of craft, not to mention greater discipline, to begin to refine it.
Me, I don’t worry about the timing, so much, most of the time. Most of the time I try not to think too much about the ultimate grail quest of getting published, mainly for the reason that so little of that quest is under my control. Gladwell mentions the market in his essay, which is an important consideration. Especially from my perspective: being a new and unpublished writer, I keep reading doom-and-gloom articles that the current state of the economy means fewer and fewer publishers are willing to take a chance on writers like me.
Then again, I look at that statement and I think: how is that different from usual?
Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.
During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.
“You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”
On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.
I wish I could talk about the economy with more knowledge, but I admit up front I cannot. I’m actually looking forward to the next week or two, when my business class transitions from marketing to economics; I’m not sure it’s the sort of economics the country is having trouble with (I sense not so much), but even still I figure there will be connections I can make between the two.
I once read a magazine article about the stock market. I can’t remember which magazine published it, but Rolling Stone is my first guess. The article was about a coming market related to either bulls or bears, whichever is worse, and it parsed the market itself as a sort of nebulous popularity contest. It vaguely connected being a popular stock like Apple or Google or Microsoft (though this was in the days before Google, I believe) to being the popular kid in school, and made the analogy that such popularity was a sort of currency, which was why people traded and bartered it. Why people believed that something so ethereal as a small stake in a zero and a one could be worth actual cash money.
I remember enjoying the article immensely even if I didn’t really understand it. Like I’ve never understood economics, and like I certainly don’t understand what’s going on right now. I guess maybe I really am Joe Sixpack even though my drink of choice is a Smirnoff mixer or a nice glass of wine. But when I open up Yahoo! and its finance page tells me every damned time that the Dow has dropped another twenty points since the last time it piddled itself, and I know that’s bad. I know, vaguely, what it means that it dropped in points, but in real world terms?