June 14, 2006

Slotty!

TOMORROW I will post the B4B finalists. Angel is SUPAH SPEEDY!

You know how on author websites sometimes they have a NEWS section where they tell you whatever thing is happening with the books and all? It is always the GOOD stuff, of course, because who puts their saddest days forward on their own website...

Can you imagine visiting your favorite author's website, and in his NEWS section seeing that he has posted, "Today, the New York Times said, "Dear Lord who keeps publishing the priapic prose of this overblown writing weiner-head!" Not two hours later, my Bookscan numbers have plummeted so low that no pulse of sales or even....sale...really... can be detected! I shall be in the bathtub working out an extended metaphor wherein the shiny narrow loveliness of a razor's edge is compared to the tongue of a dark Jessica Alba-esque angel licking seductively at my carotid artery. Should you need to reach me as I soak in the bubbley waters, fear not! I'll be answering email via my plugged in electrical laptop. I sure hope I don't drop my plugged in electrical laptop into the tub with me as I answer the consoling e-mails of 500 of my closest colleagues (and ex-wives) who are not sure if I have seen the Times yet and who have cut and pasted a few choice lines for me because they "feel so bad for me, and don't want me to hear about it from someone who loves me less," jovial ha ha! Here's hoping I don't drop this toaster in, either!"

Yeah. Me neither. We don't do that. If the NYT says the harshest thing in the universe about you, you REMEMBER IT, forever, and the last thing you want is to write it down on your OWN homepage to remind you into perpetuity every time you go to update. There are plenty of people out there dying to tear you down...why help, you know?

My friend Lynn was recently coaching an aspiring writer who had a GREAT day --- she got an offer of representation from a DARN GOOD agent. She told her writing group, and was stunned when a member got up and left in a huff. Another friend of mine here in Georgia was offered her first book contract last month. A woman we both know---a good writer in her own right, quite frankly ---- looked her right in the eye and said, "This is unfair. I write circles around you. You're just lucky, That's all it is. Luck."

Well, yeah, luck. Luck is ALWAYS a factor in a competitive industry, but you can;t use it to dimiss the ten years my friend spent selling short fiction to DARN good and competitive lit mags, learning her craft, and writing a first novel that didn't sell.

I understand the jealousy, too. It's such a difficult industry to break into, and I spent a good seven years watching writers around me get tapped while I was writing books I felt were as good as anything out there. I had to REALLY struggle to not get "slotty." You know "slotty thinking?" It's where you feel like there is one slot, and it is morally and rightfully yours, and every time you see another writer succeed, that was possibly YOUR slot they took, so you slow burn inside with bitter embers, and it makes you do and say ugly, hurtful things, and since we are what we do, eventually you become ugly and hurtful.

I've watched other writers get eaten up that way and I didn't want to become that person. I've learned to approach this business like a Scrabble game. When I play Scrabble, I play the board. I don't care if I win or lose, which is unusual for me, I am very competitive. But with Scrabble, for some reason, all I care about is the numbers. If I don't break 200 I am SO MAD. If I break 250 I am pleased and charmed and feel I have won. If I break 300, I am going to the Olympics and dance around and cheer. This allows me to be happy for the other person if they do well, too. Not that I hand them any triple word squares on a platter, but my winning (breaking 250), can happen even if they also win.

I try to be the same way about writing. There are no “slots.” There is only the best book I can write, and the work, and doing all I can for it. It lets me be happy for other people while still trying my hardest and not losing my edge and my will to succeed. When you run into SLOTTY folks (and you will, no matter what business you are in) the best thing you can do to think of them with kindness, because I have stood on the edges of that way of playing the game, and it is an awful place. No one can be happy there.

I think I don't have a news section because I don't want to activate the slumbering slottiness in the breast of another. Sometimes I keep good stuff to myself, stuff I am REALLY happy about, because I feel awkward tooting my own horn...LIKE, 4 really good things have happened that I wanted to tell you, but I sat on them because IT SEEMED LIKE A LOT OF THINGS TO HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE, and I don't want to turn this blog into an exclamation point studded THE WIONDERFULNESS OF ME perkfest just because I have a really good week.

SO I want to tell you ONE though, because, well, this one kinda means a LOT to me. With Between, Georgia being tapped as the number one BookSense pick for July, you know a large percent of my having a career at ALL has come from the awesome support and word of mouth and handselling I get from independent bookstores. Well, SIBA is the Southern Independent Booksellers Association, my homegrown cotton-infested fried green tomato indies, and they have awards they give out every year, and gods was nominated for best fiction. So were 40 or so other dern good books, and then they went to the initial vote to narrow the catagory down to the shortlist, AND ....AND PEEP THIS, oh my peeps I'm VERY pleased to be shortlisted with two other amazingly fine books, and winners will be announced June 19th, so I am sitting here with my fingers crossed praying REALLY REALLY hard that I will not not not fall into the trap of being slotty if I lose and also avoid the OTHER trap of being an unendurably pleased butthead if the heavens open and the angels come down and by some miracle or another I happen to win. Cross your fingers with me?

Posted by joshilyn at June 14, 2006 9:37 AM
Comments

Oh, they're crossed! As are my toes. This is most excellent news -- Congratulations!

Posted by: Aimee at June 14, 2006 10:02 AM

oh, I'm so excited for you! Congrats :)
have both come across slottiness and felt it myself-- but not towards you, so I hope you can share more good news soon. xx

Posted by: diane at June 14, 2006 10:09 AM

:crossing fingers:

Posted by: Laua L at June 14, 2006 11:05 AM

yaaaaaaaaaa,
I knew you would be right up there with Danielle Steele. Now remember, you still have to blog!
I knew you were on your way when I saw you on Atlanta & co!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: desi at June 14, 2006 11:13 AM

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! Can I be slotty if I only want the good slots for *you*? Because I do. And have everything crossed on your behalf, too!!!!!!!!!!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

And this is one of your most amazing posts EVER!!!!!!!

Posted by: Cornelia Read at June 14, 2006 11:16 AM

Wow, did they really say that in the NYT? That makes me want to rush right out and buy it! Seriously. There are those of us who find that often what the critics don't like in popular fiction and movies is just the thing for us! (Eg., Failure to Launch--I LOVED that movie, and it got horrible reviews!) At least in your blog, your priapic prose is a lot of fun! And...

I am on my way to B&N today with my coupon for a free frap and 15% off an item because I'm a member of the club. Gods in Alabama is my pick for the day. Cross your fingers that they have it, and check your numbers later. ;) Maybe it was provident that BAM didn't have it last week--you needed sales today instead. Hehe.

I love your blog and thanks to Shanna for sending me this way last week! I have officially added slottiness to my list of character traits to avoid.

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2006 11:31 AM

Oh, wait! You were making that up...I feel silly now. Hehe. That's what I get for being a fast reader and typer. Think first, type later. :)

And I'm even the one who sends all the links to urban legend.com back to my family and friends who forward me stuff all the time. Sigh...you're obviously a better writer than those folks.

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2006 11:42 AM

I wanted to tell you I have had Gods In Alabama on my "must read" list for a very long time and I just got it this morning! I can't wait to read it! I am hoping the kids want to play outside today so I can go sit outside and read it while I watch them (or get lost in the book and totally forget the exist). I'm a super fast reader, so I expect that in a few days I will be heading back to the bookstore to get your next book.

Posted by: tori at June 14, 2006 11:47 AM

Confirmation of what I already knew: You're amazing. Congratulations, Beautiful Tulip!

Posted by: Amy-Go at June 14, 2006 11:50 AM

Way to go Joss, it is nice to see you and Arlene in the top three. This and Between, Georgia due to drop soon you must be in 7th heaven...which is way better than the 7th level...hmmm by several firey steps.

Posted by: Cele at June 14, 2006 11:50 AM

Congrats - I really hope you win - your stories are pretty much the reason I have nothing to do with writing groups and conferences - as it is very easy to get sucked into the "now" of the audience and the whole little competition of it all.

I suggest getting people to send in stories of miraculous healings invovling your book to the judges - nothing helps tip the balance than a 14 page single spaced letter written in purple ink about how your book can heal anything from cold sores to athletes foot if placed upon the ailment under the full moon.

Posted by: elizabeth McClung at June 14, 2006 12:07 PM

Ok, I'm such a dork, I thought you were serious about the NYT--I was trying to find the idiot would would dare insult you like that and was going to send them a very scathing email. Oops.

Congratulations on the nomination!! And hey, following Elizabeth's suggestion, I can say that I LAUGHED OUT LOUD while reading a funny part in gods in Alabama, all while waiting for a neurology appointment. So you *know* you're a good writer if you could take my mind off a doctor's appointment ;)

Personally, I think you should post all your good news ;)

Posted by: Angel at June 14, 2006 12:26 PM

Angel beat me to it - I think you should go ahead and post all your good news too! Go ahead, deluge us with torrents of Newsie Goodness! We can take it, pinkie swear.

Congrats on the nomination! I haven't read the other two on the short list, nevertheless it is obvious to me you should win because a)you're pretty, b)I bet your shoes are better than theirs, c)your book title is best, and d)I read yours and loved it and I can make ANYTHING about me. It's a gift.

Also, is it terribly immature of me that the word "slotty" makes me snicker because it sounds like "slutty?"

Posted by: DebR at June 14, 2006 1:06 PM

Omigosh, Joss! THAT IS SO AMAZING! Congratulations and good luck! (And you can't be so coy. What is your other good news???)

Posted by: Martha at June 14, 2006 1:52 PM

Fingers crossed, and let us know the other good stuff so we can rejoice with you!

Posted by: Dara at June 14, 2006 2:09 PM

I'm with all the others in wanting to know the other good news, so tell us already! We won't get slotty, cross our hearts!

Posted by: dee at June 14, 2006 2:23 PM

Slottiness pervades and distracts. Its corollary in the corporate world (where slottiness exists too) is turfiness. Where turf is sacred and god help you if you step on a single blade of someone else's turf. It's as if there is an invisible fence around the turf, but the owner of the turf is the one wearing the shock collar, not you. And when they receive the electric shock, they beat you up (usually figuratively).

Posted by: mothergoosemouse at June 14, 2006 2:32 PM

Congratulations! And thank you for the slotty reminder. It's easy to let yourself slip into jealousy. Harder to remember that doing it hurts only you.

I shuttled over to your blog via Cheeky Lotus last week and you have totally sold me. I plan to buy your book at lunch time today. If my understanding of the publishing industry is correct, that will glean you about 13 cents. So have another 13 cents! On me. Go buy yourself something nice.

Posted by: Moose at June 14, 2006 2:38 PM

That is GREAT news -- please share the other good things, too! And out of all the blog entries of yours of read, this is one of my favorites -- I'm going to e-mail it to every writer friend I have. Thank you for writing it.

Posted by: liz at June 14, 2006 7:13 PM

If I was forced to decide THE reason that I MOST adore you, I would be hard-pressed to decide between "because you're an awesome, funny friend" and "because you have taught me so much about how in this industry, you have the choice between celebrating your colleagues and learning from them or just being pissed whenever it's NOT YOU in the spotlight."

I am often guilty of being slotty. I've gotten so much better at NOT doing that, because of you. Because with you I've actually SEEN how much better it works when we assume we're all on the same team and that I can learn buckets from those who've pulled ahead. Which, incidentally, is SO MUCH MORE FUN than being jealous.

All good things for you, my friend. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more.

Posted by: Mir at June 14, 2006 7:16 PM

Congrats on making the short list! So cool! I'm a-rootin' fer ya, of course.

Great post, too, even if I did have to look up priapic. I don't often run across words like that at my day job, y'know.

Posted by: David at June 14, 2006 10:48 PM

I think it will be your weekend, Joshilyn. I believe you'll win the SIBA thing on the 19th and you'll win the Georgia Author of the Year for First Novel on the 18th. I feel like I should already say congrats!
Anywho...you're brilliant and it is high time you learned that.

Posted by: tina at June 15, 2006 1:40 PM

June 19. On the calendar! And you better TOOT that horn!

Posted by: Lena at June 15, 2006 10:06 PM

Joshilyn, you know I am such a huge fan...I will most certainly cross my fingers for you!

Posted by: Julie at June 16, 2006 5:58 PM