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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nice Guys Finish Last

Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 100 times before a publisher picked it up.

I got a rejection from my dream agent this past week, and to tell the truth, I felt okay about it. I'm working on a new project now that has a better chance of getting published. I haven't forgotten Roz and Lem and their plight, but they're a hard sell. Every time I think I'm done, there's more work. More sentences that need shortening. More helping verbs that need to bite the dust. So? This is writing. I believe in Roz and Lem. I believe in the boy who becomes a man when his best friend joins the enemy army--and I believe in his slow realization that she was right, after all. I believe in the power of a friendship with the invisible, and I believe in the girl who chooses failure because she's a hero. I believe their story can change a country obsessed with success, drowning in stereotypes of women, and hungry for a tale of redemption. We all have the idols that become our demons, and Roz and Lem have helped me with mine. I believe in them, and that is enough, for now. For the future? Revision.

I don't profess to know anything about the writing industry. For pete's sake, I can't even figure out how to unify my web presence between my real name, Petre Pan, my journalism work, and my desire to gain an audience for publication. (I've finally decided that I'll start building my fiction audience under my married name, Jen Finelli, and continue writing non-fiction under Jen Veldhuyzen, since I already have an audience there. The wedding's still a few months away, though.) I do know this, however: there's a 'nice guys' dynamic in publishing.

The nice guy--you know, not the sparkly bad boy, but the guy you can always depend on, the guy you've shouldered into that frigid 'friend zone.' Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I know so many stories of authors who have now 'made it' because they did something helpful for another author--and the other author, when she made it big, introduced her 'nice guy' to that agent or publisher. Sometimes I feel like the nice guy, like I always critique more and get back less critiques, or at the writing conference I pay attention to everyone else's pitch, but for some reason everyone starts tuning out when I read mine. (Given, there's an element of 'having the goods' or not.) Yet they say that pays off in the end.

And what if it doesn't?

Then I suppose one has the honor of having helped put interesting books on the shelf, or at least of having increased another human being's experience of living. I should try to take more time to be 'the nice guy'--to help other authors out, give feedback when I can, and not just so that they'll critique my stuff, but out of real concern. I should be the nice gal.

Over and out?


  1. I can definitely commiserate with your situation - to love your characters and your story so much, but to feel like you'll never finish. I've been writing the same novel (breaking to do other things in between) for a few years now, and I'm still not done. Still plugging away, but...

    Also, I adore this blog you've set up for your writing. Where did you find such a gorgeous template/background? Did you make this yourself? I did want to mention, though, you might want to make your page text a different color... the white tends to fade into the background some and it's a little hard to read.

    But, I digress. I came here to say I hope to see more of your writing. I really felt you were onto something w/ the Roz story, and if you need another set of eyes and feedback on it, I'd love to get deeper into it. (Especially if you feel you're one who tends to give lots of feedback but doesn't get much response on her own writing... so unfair.) I'm a nobody - just an avid reader and another writer trying to carve out my own little piece of the fiction world, but something about what you're doing speaks to me.

    Just sayin'... hope this wasn't too forward... :/

    1. You are certainly not too forward! You are very much too kind! I would love to send you Roz's story, if you let me read something of yours, too. = ) How should I contact you?

      I am changing the font to Times--it becomes easier to read. Do you still think I should change the color? I am certainly considering it, but having trouble picking something that doesn't clash! My friend Kevin (beverage.deviantart.com) made the background. It's called 'Eroe'--Italian for Hero.

  2. You can email me: firespark01ATgmail.com (that AT is supposed to be an @ sign, I just don't want a bunch of spam ;)

    Yeah, I think the Times font works better, even though it doesn't have as much personality. :/