Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What I Am Not, and Never Have Been

I am not now, and have never been, a "pre-published" writer. Or rather, I guess I was, in the sense that I had contracted work that had not yet been published, but I never called myself pre-published.

I hate the term, for a number of reasons.

Or maybe just one, now that I think of it. I hate it because of the silly, smiley, happy-dappy implication of it. The implication that of course you'll be published one day, it just hasn't happened yet! You'll be published because you deserve to be, because everybody who writes a book deserves to be, because there's no such thing as a good or bad book! All books are equally worthy and good!


This attitude is crap.

People who have special skills deserve recognition for them. Are you really going to tell me that To Kill A Mockingbird or The Scarlet Letter or even Bag of Bones deserve to be placed on the same miserable, low level as the badly punctuated, cliched, and dull ramblings of some basement dweller with the intellectual capacity of a goat?

Words mean something. Their meanings are fluid, yes, but coy alterations of them for the sake of false self-esteem should be anathema to the writer. Does calling yourself "pre-published" really make you feel better? Isn't it like telling yourself a lie? A writer's job is to seek the truth, not hide behind cutesy phrases designed to justify themselves to the rest of the world.

Real "self-esteem" comes from accomplishing real things. It comes from doing the best we can. Not from pretending we're all just as good as everyone else (at anything but its most base, equality-under-law level) or lowering standards or making up sweet little adjectives so we can smile and feel all snuggly. You can call yourself "pre-published" until the cows come home, but that doesn't mean you are actually going to be published. Ever.

And it's not even creative, for fuck's sake. Pre-published? Is that like almost-employed? Pre-millionaire? Pre-married? (Actually, you could probably confuse strange men attempting to pick you up with that last one.)

But the worst thing about it is the idea that an unpublished writer has to justify themselves. That they have to slip the word "published" in there to make people respect what you're doing. Fuck them! Who cares what they think? Why would you be ashamed that you're still honing your craft? Do gymnasts call themselves "pre-Olympics? Pre-champion?"

Say it loud, I'm unpublished and I'm proud. And there are no guarantees in life.

Couple of things: I suspect the switch to the new blogger template thingie messed up something with my feed. Can anyone confirm or deny?

I have a Yahoo group, and it has an actual member! I finally gave in and started the darned Yahoo group, despite my general aversion to them. I can't promise I'll be posting there all the time, but I plan to, and I plan to do a monthly newsletter. So go sign up, if you want.


Robyn said...

I'm unpublished, and I'm proud!

Sam said...

Hi December - I love your new blog look - very chic! And yeah - prepublished sounds kind of condescending for some reason.

Anonymous said...

A bit pretentious, I think.

". . . the badly punctuated, cliched, and dull ramblings of some basement dweller with the intellectual capacity of a goat?"

You been peaking into my basement, December? -V95

bunnygirl said...

I agree that pre-published sounds silly and presumptuous. It's just another esteem-boosting term that totally misses the point. Getting published doesn't legitmize your writing any more than making the Style pages of the newspaper legitimizes the worth your new outfit.

December Quinn said...

Woo hoo, Robyn! You're liberated!!

Thanks Sam! Yeah, it is condescending, isn't it? I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're right.

December Quinn said...

I don't think that's you at all, V95, and besides, you are in fact published. So thppt.

An excelent way to put it, Bunnygirl. I'm jealous of the pithyness. :-)

Erik Ivan James said...

I like your new presentation here, December. A lot! Class.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping "peaking" would get a rise out of you. -V95

Anonymous said...

Wow, this hit me from so many different angles. I've been debating how people get insulted, or go over board not to insult with the terms they use. I just wrote a section of my novel where someone was using word s, as you've described to manipulate an audience (they kept dropping "human" from the term "parahuman" to dehumanize supernaturals.)
And, as I was walking to the store I noticed I was holding myself prouder because of some of the comments I got on the first chapter I posted yesterday. Why, I wondered, can't I just be happy feeling like I've done a good job. Why does it not really sink in unless someone else confirms my feelings? why can't I just be confident.

I have never seen anyone call themselves pre-published. Where did you see that? It's so weird. I usually call myself a not-quite-amateur writer. But that's because I am taking steps
(like submitting, writing, blogging, keeping up a page) that are professional. But my efforts have so far only netted me two sales. It's a hard field to get reurns on your effort sometimes.

BernardL said...

LOL! Very funny stuff D. Maybe it's more like pre-washed, like brand new jeans. :)

Rebecca said...

Hey - well I ALWAYS say that I'm a "pre-new york times best-seller listed writer" (it sometimes is an awkward mouthful, I admit) I'll remember to avoid saying it in your company in the future! :)

Scary Monster said...

Me be un-puplished, un-recognized, un-reliable and generally mis-un-derstood.
Like the new look especially the avatar, yarrrrrr


oh yeah, me forgot, un-derpaid too.

Serena Joy said...

I've never heard the term "pre-published" before, but how silly! Alas, I'm familiar with the mentality that would use it.

I am proudly UNpublished, and it took me over a year of haggling to get out of a crappy contract to be able to say that.

McKoala said...

Also never heard of pre-published. What silliness.

Love the image at the top of the blog; very moody. And the church is nice too. LOL.

Your eyes beat mine. I'm a mere -5/-5.25. Here in Oz I get my eyes tested for free, 'cos they're so bad. First time in my life that being a bat has been beneficial.

Bernita said...

Oyez! Oyez!
Damn straight!
Have seen it and cringe, grimace and say bad words.
You said it, December, it's a shit-term that says, loud and clear, a dork without a clue.
"Aspiring" also makes me itch, though not as badly.

December Quinn said...

Thanks, Erik! I'm mighty pleased, myself!

Lol, V95. I wasn't going to say anything. ;-)

Shoot, Michele, was that on your blog? I thought I checked it. I'll go look now.
I agree, it is an awfully hard business, and I see how people look for ways to make themselves feel better, but even then, I don't think many actors refer to themselves as "pre-stars" or "pre-Broadway" or anything like that, do they? I just don't think making up funny little words actually makes anyone feel better, it's a delusion.

December Quinn said...

Lol Bernard, yes, it's exactly like pre-washed jeans! *snort*

But Rebecca, I think that's clearly tongue-in-cheek. Like the deliberate anarchronisms Sonya was discussing on her blog yesterday. I mean people who will tell you they're pre-published like it means something, not as a joke.

Tnanks Scary Monster! I don't think you're totally un-known though, as you seem to be quite the online gadabout. :-)

December Quinn said...

Lol Serena, good point! There are some people who would give anything to be unpublished these days, instead of published with their publishers! And yes, that mentaily is all too prevalent these days, isn't it?

Thanks Mckoala! Hey, I wonder if my eyes are bad enough to qualify for free exams here? I'll have to check that.
I wish I was a -5.25. How simple life would be...sigh.

Grimacing and cussing are good reactions, Bernita! I'm not crazy about "aspiring" either, but at least it's a term for unpublished that eliminates the need to mention publishing at all. :-)

Scary Monster said...

it's the weekend. YEAH! Me gonna be un-derpants, un-der the bar and totally pre-pubescent yeahhhhhh!

December Quinn said...

Lol SM! You crack me up! (Or under!)

writtenwyrdd said...

I haven't seen the term, but it is a pretty silly euphemism.

December Quinn said...

Writtenwyrdd! I was hoping you'd come back by!

writtenwyrdd said...

In honor of you, december, I used the term pre-published (in single quotes, mind you) in yesterday's blog post.