Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bloggers, Size and Corporate Culture

Yesterday there was an internet firestorm over Maura Kelly's insensitive blog over at Marie Claire. If you've missed the whole thing, Ms. Kelly blogged about the TV show "Mike & Molly" which features two overweight characters. Now, I haven't actually seen "Mike & Molly." I've have seen a commercial for it, and I remember thinking, "wow, they finally gave up on the supermodel wife matched with the schlubby husband" (According to Jim, King of Queens). And, I thought about it no more.

Until yesterday.

I'm not going to quote Ms. Kelly. You can find her quotes easily enough. The article was rude. She was insensitive. She talked about being grossed out by overweight people doing--well, anything. She compared being obese to an alcoholic being drunk. She was overwhelmingly patronizing by giving healthy living "tips." And cheering her obese readers (who she just called disgusting) by telling them they'd feel so much better, be so much happier, if they'd just get healthy. 

First, let me just say, doesn't she have an editor? Isn't there someone who previews her posts? If not, maybe there should be. Although, from Marie Claire's point of view, perhaps this whole incident has been a success? In my opinion, an editor should've been there to scale her back. For my money, Marie Claire dropped the ball.

Some people have called for Ms. Kelly to be fired. I disagree. Ms. Kelly was hired to blog her opinions. I'm not sure what else she blogs about, but her own issues with anorexia have been a topic before. And, Ms. Kelly was just being honest--the kind of honesty that looks ugly. Was she wise to admit this? I don't think so. But should she be fired for it? I think the fact she felt so free to post this blog, the fact she'd been turned onto the topic by an editor, speaks as much to the culture at Marie Claire as it does to Ms. Kelly herself. When we're surrounded by people who believe the same things we do, it is sometimes hard to remember we don't hold the only valid viewpoint. 

My entire knowledge base for a fashion magazine's inner workings comes from The Devil Wears Prada, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, so it is possible I'm wrong here. But, I wonder if no one stopped the post because no one disagreed?

Judging others for their size is a popular pastime. And, I'll admit, I've done it. I mean, if the Biggest Loser only had moderately overweight contestants, it probably wouldn't be quite so interesting. And, I think judging swings both ways. When I turn on E! I find most of female hosts shockingly thin. But, the truth is for most people on the extremes of the weight spectrum, it isn't about will power, or food, or even a number on the scale. And, an eating disorder makes your body into a billboard that announces to the world what your weaknesses are. 

Here's my bottom line. Healthy does not equal virtuous. You can't claim to be a good person because you go to the gym. Yes, there are personal benefits to being healthy. I'd like those benefits. But I am not dealing with obsessive thought and behavior patterns that sabotage my efforts. So, I am in no position to judge those who are. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disappointment and Perseverance

PS--turns out, neither of the words in the title of this post are ones I can spell correctly without help.

Got a rejection yesterday. From an agent who I'd done two revisions for, who had my MSS exclusively for ten months.

It stung.

She didn't give lots of reasons, other than she didn't feel it was competitive enough. Or, strong enough to be competitive. And I can respect that, as a reason. I have lots of other conflicting emotions about the way she (and, to be honest, I) handled the whole process. But the bottom line is, she didn't love my book. It wasn't what she thought it could be. Is she right? I wish I knew.

The adrenaline rush of bad news was pretty productive. I revised my query and sent out a new batch (and got a rejection--with a nice PS!). It feels good to have it out there with other agents, even if just queries are out there. Meanwhile, I need to work on my WIP, and I am so much more motivated than yesterday.

So, I'm not giving up. Not on writing. Not on Webs. But...

What if she's right? What if it isn't competitive? What if...

And its always the what ifs that'll kill you. In writing. In life. And, I've decided, oh well. I mean, what? I fail? Isn't that the point I'm at right now? How will continuing to try make it more true?

I'm simplifying. The tricky bit about writing is it takes time. Time you're not cleaning, playing with kids, or doing any of the hundreds of other things I've got on my plate. People suffer. Okay, mostly my husband suffers. Is it fair to him? To me? How much time do I dedicate to something I may not get anything out of.

So I've decided to (drumroll) cut off (or at least way, way down) the tv. I mean, if its time I'm worried about what sucks more time than that? And no more web surfing. No MSN Entertainment. No Yahoo! OMG. And, maybe, for a bit, no more twitter? We'll see. Time is a funny thing. Some people cross-stitch. Not that I have anything against needlework, but I'm not sure eighty hours on an I-love-you-beary-much picture is really a more productive waste hobby than writing something maybe no one will ever see.

So I write. More. And I'm kind of happy again. It is nice not to have a feeling like the other shoe is about to fall. You know what? It fell. I survived.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Actual Excitement

I'm not going to delve into the deep mysteries of my brain here, but the last time I was excited about a book, (*cough* Mockingjay *cough*) I was disappointed. Sad. Bereft. Hype is such a hard thing to live up to. I like to find books browsing at the library, or through a friend's recommendation. Or because the blurb sounded really cool at the bookstore.

And yet...sometimes there's hype for a reason.

If you haven't seen the hype for Beth Revis's Across the Universe yet, you probably will. But before that, click on this link to read the first chapter.
Across the Universe

Then, if you want to be all fangirl with me, you can head over to her site, here.

It's true friends. I'm excited about this one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I'm not an organized person. I'd like to be organized. I aspire to it even. But, sadly, something is always more interesting than organizing. I try sometimes, but organization seems to be a living thing, sort of like tree roots. It can't exist in isolated locations independent of each other. For example, my sewing. Originally, I set the sewing up in the laundry room. Then I discovered I can't make myself sew down there. So I kept carting things up to the kitchen table. Now...its a mess. But, in order to really organize it, I'd have to organize my bedroom and the laundry room and possibly the den and kitchen. Because, see, the sewing mess could influence each of those areas.

My current WIP is sorta like that. I know, I know...I wasn't going to go to heavy into the whole "writer" thing on this blog. I'm not. But really, I've been thinking how my personality both helps and hinders me in my efforts. Okay, I have a feeling the disorganized thing only hinders. I have jealous fits about writers with detailed outlines and flow charts. I sometimes dream of plot arcs and subplots (Its! the! Subplots!) that are defined and well-thought out before I start writing.

I realized the other day that my WIP is missing a villain. A Villain.

I know.

Lest you think I'm an utter moron, let me clarify. There is a villain. The ultimate, supreme bad guy who is pulling strings and putting pieces in place. But, he isn't on-camera very often. And, in the beginning, my main characters don't know who he is. What I need is a villain who can be a stand-in. One guy who is the henchman, who can be the face of the ultimate villain, at least until you meet him. Right now its a group of dressed-in-black, ninja-like bad guys. But really, I need One.

I'm hoping this sounds like a bigger revision than it is. But I'm probably wrong. Besides that, I have to go back and make my characters react differently, subtly tweak relationships. Change pacing. You know, REVISE. And I'm not even DONE yet.

Perhaps this could've been avoided. I did have an outline. It wasn't detailed. I'm just not a detail-oriented person.

And, I find myself ruminating over a  thought, question, ponderable I've had a lot lately. How much can we change about ourselves? Is it ever really an excuse to say "I'm just not that kind of person" or is it just lazy?