Literary Siblings


Seated man reading a book
Image by National Media Museum via Flickr


That’s what I call them anyway.

I grew up an only child (I now have three step-siblings) so never had to fight for my share of my parents’ attention.

Now, as an author, I get a kick of knowing who my agents’ other writers are and watching their successes. Jealous? Sure, it would be nice to make The New York Times’ best-seller list or get short-listed for the hugely prestigious Booker Prize.

But I also know that writing success is a wild mix of talent, hard work, luck, timing, persistence, discipline. It’s not, as so many would have you believe, a zero-sum game — you win, I must lose. There are always many extremely determined competitors our there; some have helped me and vice versa. Score!

I see two sorts of what I call literary siblings — both the other authors sharing the same agent — and those who are published by the same house, maybe even by the same editor. (Which does she like better?)

I heard an author interviewed on the radio recently who is also published by Penguin/Portfolio, who will issue my new memoir, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” on April 14, 2011. Some of their authors have had huge best-sellers, like Seth Godin.

I root for every writer I like but also cheer for those on the same editorial team, even if I’ll never meet them. Our successes will (I hope!) keep our agents and our publishers thriving.

That’s a win for all of us.

Another lying ambitious young journo…sigh

The Drop Dead cover in 1975
Image via Wikipedia

Laugh hard, laugh long.

Some old-school, old-media types actually love newspapers — not loved past tense, but still, however unreasonably, sort of like whaling captains who love square-riggers,  feel passionately about them and love writing for them and know how damn lucky anyone is these days to even work in a newsroom. It’s all we ever wanted to do.

Explain to me, then, what is wrong with Hailey MacArthur, the intern caught plagiarizing from The New York Times and fired from the Colorado Springs Gazette?

Here’s the deal, Hailey. Getting a staff newspaper job these days, especially if you’re over 30, is about as likely as flying to the moon. In the past two years, 12,000 of us — I’m a veteran of three major dailies, most recently the New York Daily News — have been canned. Very few of us, the old, expensive ones, will ever find another job in that industry again. And, whatever you want to say about how utterly miserable it is to work for a newspaper, some of us had a blast and miss it like oxygen. Some of us are still friends with, and freelance for, our former colleagues. It hurts like hell, but tant pis. Continue reading “Another lying ambitious young journo…sigh”