Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Control Freaks in a Blizzard

This past week, a wonderful NYT-bestselling author, who's been in the business for decades, commented on the inherent irony that publishing is an industry in which nobody really has any control, but just about everyone involved (from editors to writers, etc.) are "overachieving control freaks." I couldn't help but find that painfully funny...and unbelievably accurate.

And then, this morning, a writer on one of my loops pointed us toward this essay by Dani Shapiro. In it, Shapiro quotes a number of thought-provoking phrases from the founder of the New American Review, editor Ted Solotaroff, mostly about the struggle writers have to gain experience in this industry while dealing with the "miserable trifecta: uncertainty, rejection, disappointment."

This was my favorite passage, Solotaroff writes (as quoted by Shapiro), "Writing itself, if not misunderstood and abused, becomes a way of empowering the writing self. It converts anger and disappointment into deliberate and durable aggression, the writer's main source of energy. It converts sorrow and self-pity into empathy, the writer's main means of relating to otherness. Similarly, his wounded innocence turns into irony, his silliness into wit, his guilt into judgment, his oddness into originality, his perverseness into his stinger."

We are in the midst of yet another blizzard here. It's making me angry, and that emotion has yet to be conterted to any useful writerly quality. Furthermore, I feel I control the publishing industry about as well as I control this snowstorm... But, I'm going to bury myself in my little imaginary world today and work on the tiny screen of life--however fictional--over which I do have some small measure of influence. I hope this will relieve, convert or otherwise dispel the building frustration in some productive way.

And if all else fails, I also see hot chocolate in my future.

What are you all doing today??


Maureen McGowan said...

I think we might get snow here tonight. Not sure. It's nearly mid Feb and NO SNOW ON THE GROUND IN TORONTO. Crazy. when I lived in California I told my friends we had winters like this all the time. But this is the first snowless winter since I got back.
But I'm sure it won't last. I'm sure we'll get dumped on soon. Then again, I said that a month ago, too.

Interesting quotes from that article... Still trying to decide if I think it's true. I think it can be... It certainly sounds like a healthy way to channel all the anger, disappointment and uncertainty. Me? I channel it into overeating, mostly. ;)

Edie Ramer said...

I'm waiting for some of the wit Shapiro mentioned to come out in my writing. Maybe it's the blizzard blowing outside my window that makes me feel dull-minded today. I keep thinking I should shovel, but with all that gusting it would be useless.

Marilyn Brant said...

Maureen~I tend to channel it into overeating, too, i.e., huge quantities of Dove chocolate lately :). I hope you'll be able to manage a few more weeks of snowless winter. I'm envious!

Edie~I was outside dealing with the elements briefly today, and I'm sure the icy wind froze my brain ;). Hope you're having a much cozier evening!!

Pamela Cayne said...

I love the "becomes a way of empowering the writing self" quote. And I think I'm going to augment it to "becomes a way of empowering the self" because I've been learning that the storm that hits me (not of a snow nature, but just as messy and destructive) isn't important--my family is, my writing is. I'll decide what's worth my energy, not some twit with a god complex passing through my life, thank you very much!

Robin said...

Hi, Marilyn! I read this in the paper on Sunday. I thought she made some thought provoking points.

Today the sun is finally shining and Southern Cal shall be returning to warm temperatures in the coming days. YAY!

I hope you're having a great day!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Ugh- we got a lot of snow. The big dog is up to his neck in it and the little dog just walks in the trails he makes. :)

Hope you are shoveled out. Control freak that I am, I spent the past two days trying to figure out where to put the snow from my driveway.

Hugs! N

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamela~I love the strength of your conviction and your reminder that WE decide what's worth our energy. So, so true ;-).

Robin~I'd heard you'd all got drenched with rain out in CA. IMO, that's still preferable to snow (!!), but I can imagine it gets annoying, too. Glad the sun came out for you today!

Nancy~It's crazy making, isn't it?! We've still got a ton of snow piled up by our mailbox, which I'll need to somehow get rid of tomorrow or face the possiblity of the nice postal worker skipping our house completely...sigh. Hang in there :).

Sandra Ferguson said...

Enjoying the snow. Stop by my blog and see pics of a real snowfall in Texas. Doesn't happen . . . well, I can't remember the last time we had snow like this and I'm old! Really old. Today, I feel like a kid, though.

Marilyn Brant said...

Sandra, I'm so glad you're having fun with the snow! Really, ANYTIME you want a little more, you are most welcome to visit us... :-)