The aquarium is an appropriate metaphor for those wishing to publish. There are a lot of fish (authors) that are trying to get published, and they spend a lot of time swimming back and forth and seem to end up where they started. Hopefully, this site will help authors reduce this problem. Best of luck to all of you in pursuit of your literary ambitions. RDL
Clink on the fish tank to feed the fish.
If you're really bored, you'll find that NPR might fill in your day - while we still have access to it... Also, there is a daily literary quote that we hope you'll like.
Who might be reading your query? This is an advertisement for an intern at a literary agency posted in May.
Job Title: Summer Internship at Literary Agency
The intern's duties include reading manuscripts, writing reader's reports and rejection letters, handling permissions requests and contracts, filing contracts and general correspondence, sending manuscripts to publishers (both foreign and domestic), answering telephone and email requests, and other office duties. Interns play a critical role at [our agency], are involved in all aspects of the office's work, and are encouraged to take on challenging projects. This internship is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in publishing to learn about many different aspects of the industry. The ideal candidate will have a strong literary background. Ideally, the candidate will have taken courses in both literature and creative writing. Prior experience in a publishing house or at a literary agency is helpful, but not required
Job Type: Part Time Salary: unpaid Location: New York
Start Date: 5/27/2008
This isn't meant to be discouraging. Think that your reader might be a college kid who may not "get" your story. That letter has to flow like free beer at a frat house. If it doesn't catch the readers attention as being exceptional, guess where it ends up?
Some people seem to attract attention in spite of themselves. An example is J. D. Salinger, the author who penned Catcher in the Rye. The book sold millions of copies. He was so commerically successful that he was financially set for life. In short, he is the author who can sit around and watch fish all day. You wouldn't think that he'd be so controversial.
The source of the controversy was Catcher in the Rye's 50th anniversary. The book drew the ire of columnist George Will (July 2, 2001), who referred to his novel's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, as an "American Whiner." For Will, Caulfield was a protagonist who complained about his world, but did nothing. What Will complains about is introspection, and the ability to think about the world. It appears that introspection about the American lifestyle doesn't sit well with the conservative columnist when it doesn't offer solutions. I respectfully disagree will Mr. Will.
The truth is that introspection can be a great characteristic when it leads to better decisions. A dialog must begin with a thought. Holden Caulfield wasn't making great decisions during the novel, but he was reflecting on the world around him. Will said that Caulfield "... helped teach America's youth how to pout." An example would be Caulfield's notion that people are "phonies." The fact that a protagonist can see what is happening in the world around him, and then express those things in an original way is important. Democracy starts with being able to see when something's wrong. When Will says that Americans have become "whiners," it means people who complain. Here in the United States, we've been sold a false war, have leaders that haven't prepared the country properly with respect to jobs or energy, and Federal Reserve has helped create the economic havoc the country now faces. There were people with a voice, like George Will, who knew these things were wrong, but didn't whine enough.
One has to agree with Mr. Will that Holden Caulfield isn't the symbol we want for American youth. He is weak, whiney, and doesn't take advantage of his priviledged existence. A fact in his favor, though, was that Holden was only 16 years old. He isn't expected to have much of a voice. One cannot say the same of a syndicated columnist whose voice should have been brave, and he should have whined more....
It is good that Mr. Salinger wrote Cather in The Rye to look at imperfections in the world. With so many things that need attention, we could use another whiner for this era.
By the way, I like the writings and some of Mr. Will's opinions, but he missed the boat on this issue. I suppose that Salinger didn't care much about Mr. Will's opinions while he lived, and he certainly will not care now.
Here were the words of the Blind Poet--
crumpled like wash for the line, to be
dried, pressed flat. Upstairs, someone called
my name. What sense would it ever
make to them, the unread world, the getters and spenders,
if they could not hear what I heard,
not feel what I felt
nothing ruined poetry, a voice revived it,
Carol Muske (1997)
For some reason, poets are always consigned to a corner. Perhaps it's for their own protection. They are people who examine the world, and then look for the perfect words to express their thoughts and feelings. Putting a poet in a corner while they practice their art is not a punishment, but a safety issue.
If by chance you write poetry, then there are times when people do not get your witty aphorisms and the allegory that you use. They skip over the rhyme scheme you've plotted out and obeyed, and trip over the simple metaphors you offer. You then righteously jump up and down protesting the lack of literary discrimination of readers. Unfortunately, I am often that reader. However, you get a corner and a page of links.