Greetings, O Stiletto-Heeled Terror of Wannabes and Crapmeisters Everywhere...

You emphasize over and over how you are looking for "fresh and original" writing. "Good writing trumps all!" I mean, you're reviewing oodles of query letters, partials, and fulls, not to mention keeping up on your own reading, shopping your manuscripts, and let's not even discuss the time spent draining buckets of gin, stalking George Clooney, attending publisher parties and conferences, etc.

Isn't your razor-brain so crammed full with information and plot pitches that after awhile even John Grisham seems like unoriginal crap to you? Surely you feel like you've seen everything. So...how do recognize fresh and original when you see it? Can you give examples of what brought "fresh and original" to an old idea? How do you keep from getting "burnt out" and utterly jaded?

A Devoted Snarkling (currently up to Dec '05 Snarkives)

How many meals have you eaten this year? Even if it's just one a day, you've had more than 300. Can you still tell if something is extra yummy?

Unless you eat like Jaws (or KY) you have a sense of good/bad/indifferent right at the start.

Reading is a bit like that.

I keep from getting burned out by reading other books, watching The Wire and doing this blog.
There's an interesting article in the recent NewYork about burn out. The theory is burnout doesn't come from over work. It comes from unrealistic expectations and a reduced sense of effectiveness. (Thus social workers with a busy caseload burn out not because they are busy but because they feel their work isn't accomplishing anything in the long run.)

And your premise that I remember all this stuff is wrong. I don't remember much of anything after I've said yes/no to the query. Think of it as cache memory: cleared regularly to maintain speed.

Also, I had to stop stalking George Clooney. Restraining orders are so verbose! You'd think he could have just written "not quite right for me" on my query letter/s and returned it in the SASE (ok, it was a packing crate with me in it but really...it was stamped and addressed)


Anonymous said...

"Cache memory." Cool. I'll have to remember that. I do that at one. Once I complete something and ship it off to the person who wants it, I forget about it.

Your points on burn out are interesting, too, and made me think. I tried writing (unsuccessfully) for Hollywood and burned out doing that. The scripts were fun in the beginning, but it became apparent I wasn't to accomplish anything by writing them. Later, when I was in the army, they found out I could write and put me on newspaper reporter duty for the group--in addition to all my regular duties. Though I got published, in this case, THEIR expectations were unrealistic, and I burned out then, too.

a. m. burns said...

Can someone provide me a link (or other avenue) to this article on burnout? Did she mean The New Yorker magazine?

Dave Fragments said...

Miss Snark gave up George Clooney for the new James Bond - Daniel Craig.

Anonymous said...

I can't provide the link to the article on burnout, but I'm quite sure she meant New York magazine (not The New Yorker)--they are both great, but very different magazines (The New Yorker publishes fabulous short stories, poetry and cartoons; New York has, among other things, a boffo crossowrd puzzle).

Kate Thornton said...


It's New York, not The New Yorker, a. m. burns, and here's the link.

Great article. Thanks, Miss Snark! You're a gem!

Gina Black said...

OMG I'm devastated to hear about George. Waking to news like that...well, I might need an extra cup of tea to start the day at the very least. :sigh:

I agree about burnout. To me it always seems to be connected with facing the same problems day after day without being able to fix them, which, in essence, becomes unrealistic expectations and a reduced sense of effectiveness.

I discovered that pretending that Friday was my last day brought back the joy in my job. And sometimes it even gave me the energy and perspective to think outside of the imposed don't-rock-the-boat box and then I could really make things happen.

That's why I've always thought this blog is brilliant. Because I know if *I* had been an agent for x number of years who was facing the same nitwits day after day (only they weren't the same and there was always an endless supply of new ones) at some point I would start to go crazy and lose some of the love of what I was doing. The most effective way of curing nitwit disease is to educate. And that's what this blog does. In that way it solves a problem, and I would think reduces burnout.

That's why I've never understood the writers who don't trust this blog or think you should post under your real name. They just don't get it. Your real name is Miss Snark! This blog makes it real. Yanno?

(Kinda like the Velveteen Rabbit. I'm getting all sniffy now. Where's that other cup of tea...?)

Anonymous said...

It is amazing, how I loathe Miss Snark for her condescending tone and, at the same time, adore her for saving me from making a fool of myself. Thanks oh Snarky one for allowing me to remain arrogant by providing the loophole "it's all about the writing" while reminding me repeatedly of how little I know about the publishing industry.

Unknown said...

John Grisham is "unoriginal crap." Addictively readable, of course, like potato chips for readers.

Anonymous said...

Is Dave correct, Miss Snark? Have you given up George Clooney for Daniel Craig? If so - good choice. And interesting this should come up because I recently saw Mr. Clooney advertising coffee in a British magazine, and thought (for the first time in my life): Hmmm, I'm not sure he's quite right for Miss Snark.

Stacia said...

Mmmm....Daniel Craig as Bond. So not my type (I don't like blondes), so incredibly hot anyway.

Chesya said...

I think the poster has it all wrong. Editors and agents are able to find good publishable fiction “because” of all these things, not in spite of them.

Anonymous said...

Hey, there's crap, and Crap That Sells...such as those romances at the checkout counter, Grisham, Danielle Steele... I want to be a good writer, but I'll settle for a writer whose stuff sells.

Please Dog, let me be a potato chip!

Anonymous said...

You aren't taking that silly restraining order thingy seriously, are you.
It's just his way of playing hard to get.

Anonymous said...

I saw this sign in a James Patterson book display today. It said, "John Grisham: Be afraid. Be very afraid." Ha!

Thanks so much for this insight about burnout! I've been burnt out on my third chapter for ages. Maybe I'm putting too much weight on what needs to be accomplished there.

LadyBronco said...

"Also, I had to stop stalking George Clooney. Restraining orders are so verbose!"

Is THAT why all those wonderfully gorgeous pictures of him are now missing from Snark Central? *hmph*
Maybe you should concentrate more on the new 007, Miss Snark. It's his eyes.