Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh, Envy, Pull Up a Chair and Sit for a Spell

My life has been quite crazy lately. Finished hush-hush book project, attended my daughter's wedding, and visited Hearst Castle, which, ironically enough, I visited when I was eight months pregnant with now newly married daughter. I've been having a grand time, and also not such a good time as work has been demanding. Oi, I'm tired.

But I also managed to read two very beautiful books, which I shall review in a bit. I haven't read much decent fiction in a while, so it was nice to put down a book and say that's mighty fine writing. And I could say that about TWO books!. YAY!

Envy is always something a writer has to contend with. It's so easy to succumb to it that I actively push it away. Most days it doesn't get a toehold. There will always be writers who write better than you do, and your skillz aren't going to improve no matter how much you might disparage theirs. I do envy some people's success, usually those writers whose popularity I find completely baffling. To this day I do not understand the popularity of  The Girl with the..." books. Authors whose success I understand, I don't envy. They deserve it, and all I have to say to them is, you go, girl (or boy). I also am not bitter about those authors whose success is such a total goddamn fluke that I'm more amused than anything else. The woman who penned 50 Shades of Grey? Laugh all the way to the bank, honey.

But this week I face a different kind of envy that I find very difficult to shove into the corners of my psyche. If you read this blog (all seven of you), you know that I penned an Austen pastiche, a take-off of Pride and Prejudice named Pen and Prejudice.  I worked hard on that book, and I think it's fairly decent. It's not brilliant, but then how many of us are brilliant authors? Damn few. So, yeah, I can look at it dispassionately and say, hey, not bad.

And I couldn't sell it to save my life. I flogged that book for almost two years. This was on the heels of the Zombie Austen book, and I thought, yay,  the market is ripe for a modern take on Austen! I was actually correct. Sadly, it wasn't me, a no-name author, whom the market wanted.

The Austen Project has handed out the Austen books to individual authors (all of them are well known) to construct a modern take on the Austen classics. Why does this sound familiar? Oh! Just like I did! I wish I had a dollar for every agent who said to me, "Hmmm, interesting concept, but I just don't think I could sell it." Clearly they were wrong, because all these books are getting a ton of hype, and as slowly as the book world moves, it was obvious to me that at the time I was trying to sell my book, this concept was actually being sold.

Of course it's possible that my book isn't good enough to compete with these other authors. Maybe. Their reviews aren't any better than my reviews, and, honestly?  I think I can hold my own with these other authors and their interpretations of my favorite characters in fiction.

Yes, I am envious that they didn't have to query a bazillion agents until finally realizing that no one was going to buy this book, and if I didn't want to mold on my hard drive, I had to publish it myself. Which I did. But it rankles, and I'm envious.

Anyway: the Austen Project. If you love Jane Austen, check it out. Ignore envy, who is snorting, pouting, and wheezing in the corner of this blog. She isn't staying long. I've handed her an eviction notice.