A painful but necessary book on writing

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BetweenTwoWorlds
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A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » February 2nd, 2011, 1:06 am

I searched in the forums, but couldn't find an entry for this book - Jessica Morrell's "Thanks, But This Isn't for Us" -- a book that will hurt you.

It's like the anti-friend. Your friends will tell you how good your book is, how fresh and original and lively it is, how much of a sure thing it is that some Big Publishing House will snap it up. Jessica is there to tell you that your dreams are in your head, and your writing is on paper, and there is a good chance your dreams are going to stay in your head and your writing is going to stay on your own desk.

I'm reading it, and making notes about my own writing. I haven't yet simply tossed away my keyboard and applied to join a monastery of monks who've vowed an eternal vow of non-communication (that would require marriage, I think). But I'm so close.

I think I'll be a better writer when I finish the book and start to dissect my own novel, but it is dang hard to make it through. And yet - I recommend to you if you're struggling to figure out the real reasons why 25 agents and publishers have flatly turned down your writing. It's not the dark and stormy night that's dissuading them. It's more than that.

Well, I need to get back to the book. Darn it.
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sierramcconnell
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by sierramcconnell » February 2nd, 2011, 7:56 am

Actually, my friend told me 'What the Hell were you thinking writing that?' and still, half a year later, wanted to know when I was going to let her finish the other half.

A lot of the reasons people get rejected is because they are people. Single. One. They don't know you and you don't know them. You need to find some way of standing out in the crowd, a good way, not a 'hey look at me, I'm over here way', and unfortunately sometimes that way involves either hooking up with (no, not like that) a higher power than you or the use of money, which a lot of us don't have.

Does she have that in her book?

It comes with accidental meetings with authors and agents who see you shine outside the internet world, and with internetworking within. It comes from the you of it, and has nothing to do with your book. That stack of papers you wrote is just a doorstop unless you yourself can draw the kind of positive attention somewhat similar to getting a job interview. Because that's what it is. A Job Interview.

And thousands are applying, everyday. More the next.

It may not be your book. It may be you and your 'popularity'.

Get ready to go back to High School, because that's what the Writer's World is all about. Who is in, who is out, who's cool to be seen with, who isn't. And what is that guy doing with that woman?

Simply put, if you don't sell, your book doesn't have half a chance.

Good luck.
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by cheekychook » February 2nd, 2011, 11:46 am

It's very important to read books about writing and to study and improve your ability, however, and I can't stress this enough, sometime "Thanks but it's not for us." just means "THANKS, BUT IT"S NOT FOR US."

Do you like every published book you pick up to start reading? I don't. Neither do agents. They feel the same way about queries and submissions. Sometimes it's just not for them. Find other ways to judge the merits of your writing. Don't ever let the query process in all its flawed, subjective randomness tell you whether or not you have a good book. There are plenty of other ways to do that.
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Quill
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Quill » February 2nd, 2011, 12:32 pm

BetweenTwoWorlds wrote:I searched in the forums, but couldn't find an entry for this book - Jessica Morrell's "Thanks, But This Isn't for Us" -- a book that will hurt you.
I count this book at the top of my books-on-writing list, along with "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass, and Stephen King's "On Writing". It inspired me to get my current WIP out of the drawer in 2009 and start into it again, because from the book I could see what I needed to do to revise. A very nuts-and-bolts book for AVOIDING the rejection letter, by honing one's skills and manuscript in specific ways. And it conveys the info with humor and in small bites, rather than in blocks of dry prose. Worked for me.

Jessica gives seminars, edits, and writes an excellent blog as well.

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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Margo » February 2nd, 2011, 12:39 pm

Thanks for posting about this book, guys. Somehow I'd missed it. Gotta check it out.
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polymath
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by polymath » February 2nd, 2011, 12:44 pm

Tough love, the story of every poets' journey, gotta love it.
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steve
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by steve » February 2nd, 2011, 3:27 pm

There's no such thing as a necessary book on writing.
It's like the anti-friend.
I'm the anti-friend; and I'm free.
Read one of the best stories by Borges.

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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Margo » February 2nd, 2011, 3:56 pm

steve wrote:and I'm free.
...You'd be a bargain at twice the price. :)
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Mira
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Mira » February 2nd, 2011, 8:21 pm

Urg.

I don't know this book, it sounds like it might be funny and clever and helpful, which is all to the good.

But I'm really careful to avoid anything remotely like 'tough love' where it relates to my writing.

I don't know if you're familiar with Julia Cameron - she wrote the Artist's Way, and she said that criticizing an emerging artist is artist abuse. Emerging artists need encouragement, support, freedom, room to experiment, branch out, make mistakes, and frequent watering.

If, instead, they get harshness, they tend to get blocked and frozen.

I know that in the publishing business 'tough love' is all the norm, and that may be great in the business environment, but it is wrong for someone exploring their writing ability.

Honest, strong critique, once someone is confident, is essential. But only if you're working with someone who is beyond the apprentice stage.

Those are my thoughts, for what they are worth. :)

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by J. T. SHEA » February 2nd, 2011, 8:46 pm

Right on, Mira! 'Tough love' is all too often hate in thin disguise. For example, when authors urge you to 'kill all your darlings' could they just be trying to make more room for their own darlings?

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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Margo » February 3rd, 2011, 10:39 am

Mira wrote:But I'm really careful to avoid anything remotely like 'tough love' where it relates to my writing.
I agree that the tough love books are better saved for later stages of development, a few novels down the road, maybe after some short story publications or a few contests where the writer has placed or received an honorable mention and has a sense that they are getting some things right.
J. T. SHEA wrote:Right on, Mira! 'Tough love' is all too often hate in thin disguise. For example, when authors urge you to 'kill all your darlings' could they just be trying to make more room for their own darlings?
LOL. No, I think the point might be that no novel needs to be 500,000 words long.
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Claudie » February 3rd, 2011, 12:28 pm

Mira, I think a lot of it depends on how it's presented. If the book says "If you did this, you're screwed and lame" then yeah, not very encouraging for those starting out.

If, however, it presents for ways to fix the problems and takes the time to say these mistakes are normal, then you're basically telling the emerging artist "Keep going. You're on the right track. Do this and you'll gain speed."

Still. Being careful with recommending these tough love books is a good idea. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole at the moment, as I'm starting a first draft, and I'll be doing all those mistakes and more. ;)
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polymath
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by polymath » February 3rd, 2011, 1:11 pm

Might tough love be a dialogue? Like, you know, it's tough love too because writing is tough, the kind of love to hate, hate to love relationship that fascinates our better kind of dark side. Like, tough love is a critiquer who takes the tough stance and makes the effort to determine a writer's skill level, where to encourage, where to suggest areas for reconsideration, when to hold back, when to unleash the whirlwind. Mostly, though, when to hold back for the sake of building good rapport and for the betterment of the greater good.
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Falls Apart » February 3rd, 2011, 4:53 pm

Tough love, I've discovered, is invaluable. My mother is a former newspaper editor, which means that, if she doesn't like something you wrote, she says so, and won't hold you to a lower standard just because you're younger/less experienced. She called my fourth grade paper fluff (sniff). I didn't like it when I was younger, but now that I realize just how much I need criticism, she's kind enough to take a look, chapter by chapter, at my WIP . . . and cover it with red pen. It can be a bit disheartening at times, seeing how many mistakes that I've made, but criticism--or good criticism, at least--is nothing more than pointing out the mistakes that you created yourself. It can really only make your work better. So, I just logged onto the library website and ordered that book. Can't wait to read it! :)

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Mira
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Re: A painful but necessary book on writing

Post by Mira » February 4th, 2011, 1:19 am

J. T. SHEA wrote:Right on, Mira! 'Tough love' is all too often hate in thin disguise. For example, when authors urge you to 'kill all your darlings' could they just be trying to make more room for their own darlings?
Yes, I think jealousy is something we all grapple with - I know I do!! It's so easy to see other writers as competition....and if the field could just be thinned a wee bit.....something to watch for in ourselves, and be on the lookout for in others. We're human.
Margo wrote: I agree that the tough love books are better saved for later stages of development, a few novels down the road, maybe after some short story publications or a few contests where the writer has placed or received an honorable mention and has a sense that they are getting some things right.
Yes, I agree! I think tough love is perfect once a writer is highly confident - and if the work is almost finished. Even Stephen King says he never shows a first draft to anyone.
Claudie wrote:Mira, I think a lot of it depends on how it's presented. If the book says "If you did this, you're screwed and lame" then yeah, not very encouraging for those starting out.

If, however, it presents for ways to fix the problems and takes the time to say these mistakes are normal, then you're basically telling the emerging artist "Keep going. You're on the right track. Do this and you'll gain speed."

Still. Being careful with recommending these tough love books is a good idea. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole at the moment, as I'm starting a first draft, and I'll be doing all those mistakes and more. ;)
Yes, I agree. A book that teaches nuts and bolts to writers can be very helpful. Again, I haven't read this particular book - maybe it's funny, clever and encouraging with a snarky overlay, that could work for some people.

Not me, though. :) I'm at the stage of my writing where I basically just want people to read it, give it a gold star and hang it on the refrigerator for everyone to see. :)

I think it's good for people to know what they need, and if that is a total lack of tough love, then so be it! :)
Last edited by Mira on February 4th, 2011, 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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