Festivus For the Rest of Us (Writers)

Thursday, January 02, 2020
Christmas is over. Hannukah, too. But when exactly is Festivus celebrated?

Who knows. I do know there are three steps to this holiest of holidays: the raising of the Festivus pole, the airing of grievances, and the feats of strength.

You're not obsessed with Seinfeld? You're not familiar with Festivus? Here's a video explaining it:

I didn't put up a Festivus pole, nor did I put up a Christmas tree (it was a funky end-of-year) but I am more than ready to air my grievances... 'cause I got plenty.

Grievance # 1: Publishers That Take Their Sweet Time--There are three publishers that have my entire manuscript. They asked for it. Two of them requested it earlier in July. The other one made the request on November 6. Don't they know I already have an artist-friend I'm planning on asking to submit some cover art for my soon-to-be novel (whenever any of those publishers get around to getting a contract to me)? Don't they realize that every time I see an Oklahoma license plate (my story takes place in Tulsa), I consider it a sign, that I'm then sure that when I get home, I'll find an email saying, "Yes, we love your manuscript and we want to throw big money--James Patterson-level money--at you in order to publish your book"?

Publishers (and you know who you are)--please hurry.  But seriously, I understand. It's only me who's anxious and impatient.

Grievance # 2: Binge-Worthy Television Shows--There are some shows I adore, and when the new seasons came up recently, I slouched on the couch, slothlike, and binged away. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (the best season yet). The Crown (new queen, new king, new troublemaking queen's sister, but still good). Time that I spend lazily watching TV is time I'm not writing.

Grievance # 3: Not Much Butt-Kicking Being Done Lately--Two years ago a group of writers (I am among them) began a writing accountabilty group. The first year I was active. I wrote every week and reported every week. I commented on the rest of the group's progress and tried to encourage.

The next year, I fell off in the middle of the year and have been in a funk ever since. It's not family or friends or writing. You guess what part of my life has been giving me the blues...

Not only have I missed out on the opportunity to make some serious writing progress, along with getting invaluable help from the Butt-Kickers in those unproductive months, I also haven't held up my end of the bargain. My fellow BKers have had things to celebrate and they've had some life-and-death struggles. I haven't been around to yippee-yahoo and my shoulder has been AWOL, too. I'm disappointed in myself.

Grievance # 4: Incredible Books--I've read some fabulous books lately. The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The Nickel Boys. Full Throttle (one of the short stories in that collection is one of my favorites of all time). Dreamland Burning. The last one, by Jennifer Latham, particularly makes me miffed because it's well-crafted and has a compelling plot and it covers the same event my manuscript does. When I read lines that sing, from page to page, I feel inadequate. Will my words soar? Or will they pale next to the fantastic stories I've read?

We'll see.

I could share more grievances but I'm already over my word count. Why is Nutella so delicious, but so bad for you? Why is Viggo Mortensen still avoiding my stalking attempts calls? How can the beauty of places like the Grand Canyon, and Iceland, and southern France capitivate my heart but elude being (totally) captured on film?

Those grievances will have to wait until Festivus next year. Until then?

Happy Festivus!

Sioux continues teaching full-time and writing part-time. Lately, she's also been a part-time gift wrapper (along with Radar, her naked and handsome 87-pound blonde friend) at Half Price Books on behalf of Love a Golden Rescue. In February she will attempt a Festivus feat of strength: she's taking WOW's Build Your Writer/Author Platform class. (Wow! I hope Karen Cioffi is up to the challenge. ;) If you'd like to see how lax Sioux has been with
                                                      her writing, check out her blog.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Ha! I love Festivus because you get to tell people how they disappointed you, and then arm wrestle. Lol! ;)

I hear you on the binge-worthy TV. I just binged "You" on Netflix the past couple days. If you haven't watched that show, it's pretty ridiculous and deliciously creepy, but it's based off a novel and is what my husband calls "Dexter for Dummies." This season was set in Los Angeles, and man, their depiction of LA is cringe-worthy accurate.

Incredible books is a plus! I read a lot of books last year, but only a couple of them were amazing. It's great you had some you fell in love with.

I definitely hear you on publishers taking a long time. For the July one, what was their standard time frame? You're going on 6 months, so I think it would be okay to follow up. Also, keep putting your work out there, and set a date of when you want your work to be published by. Some authors shop their project six months or a year or more if you have patience. It depends on your goals. After I finish my memoir, I will probably try and get an agent for six months to a year, and if that doesn't pan out, then an indie publisher, and a hybrid press.

I'm glad you're back at the BKers. We love you! Good luck, Sioux, and happy Festivus! :)

Nicole Pyles said...

Oooh oooh I have a grievance!

**frantically waves hand**

Mine is literary magazines never telling you the status of your story and either leaving you in a weird limbo or announcing the winners which you had to Google to find out about. I leave room for the fact an email went to spam, but still...oh well, it has made me far more careful about what emails I delete and how often I check spam.

Also I have the same fears of inadequacy about writing when I see amazing works. I do remind myself though we're all in a work in progress!

Also I've been bingeing Law and Order SVU from the beginning and now feel like a crime solving pro!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--I just sent a follow-up email to the Tulsa press, since it's going on 6 months. My fingers are still crossed.

I lovedlovedloved Dexter, so I will check out "You."

Nicole--When I don't hear from Chicken Soup, and then I hear the book is out, I figure they just forgot to let me know and I DO have a story published in the anthology. ;)

I'm a Law and Order snob. I adored the original one, and snubbed the SVU episodes--most of the time. I've returned, and boy, are they good. I never should have turned my nose up at them.

Renee Roberson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margo Dill said...

I did love THE CROWN--so good. My grievance is that it doesn't keep going and going and going. Hang in there, Sioux, I think that we all go through periods of time like you have been, and somehow, we always find our way back to the light side. :) Happy New Year!

Renee Roberson said...

Another Law and Order:SVU fan over here, and now I have my daughter hooked on it. I also watched most of the first season of "You," and now need to go finish the rest so I can watch Season 2. Never thought I would have such empathy for a psychopath, LOL! My grievances are all these dang streaming services that tempt me day and night (right now I've been bingeing an old favorite, "Crossing Jordan," about a medical examiner that runs around solving crimes instead of spending all her time in the morgue. It's a guilty pleasure I don't need sucking up my time!

I guess I also have a grievance that no agents seemed to see the potential of my YA, causing me to get discouraged with submitting it? I'm glad you followed up with the first publisher--it's time to at least give you an update on that.

In the meantime, you've got some great plans in place and you know I'm rooting for some good news for ya!

Val said...

Sadly, you have not spurred me to get off my ample rumpus and start writing. It's not you, it's me! You HAVE spurred me to air a grievance about binge-watching. My son Genius was home for the holidays, and made me fall in like with "Derry Girls." Now he's gone away, and I have no resources available to watch the last two episodes of Season 2, or any reason to look forward to Season 3. I guess there's always next Christmas.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Festivus! Festivus!

Ah, binge shows. I've watched so much British TV lately that when I wanted the boys attention the other day they got "Oi, you lot!"

2020 will be better for you. We the accounability group say so. So there. Isn't that all it takes.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I feel the same. I binged the whole season in a few sessions, and now it's done... and I have a long wait until my next fix.

Renee--I'm a "Crossing Jordan" fan too. I've watched several episodes over the break. Definitely a time sucker--but pleasant while it's happening.

Don't get discouraged. You know how many famous writers got rejected dozens and dozens of times before getting published. Stay strong. Don't give up.

Val--"Derry Girls"? Are you trying to heap another monkey on my back? ;)

Sue--Yes, that's all it takes. Now I can relax, knowing it will happen soon.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Ah, Festivus! You can never watch enough Seinfeld, though, right?

Starting October, I binge watch baking show competitions. Mind you, I don't bake but I get sucked into the drama of it all. And before you know it, I'm talking about Swiss meringue and choux--is that how you spell it?--pastry and matcha-flavored macaroons. As if I know what they are!


Anyway, the publishing industry moves very slowly, my friend. I'm sure my tombstone will read "Has six submissions out. Please forward responses to heaven." :-)

Also yes, Derry Girls. LOVE. And hang in there.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Those baking shows are like food porn. I fantasize and drool, but don't ever attempt anything.

Your tombstone prediction? Hilarious.

I guess I will have to check out Derry Girls. (Sigh)

Linda O'Connell said...

I feel down when my friends tell me they made the latest CS book...and I didn't. At first I question sanity: the publisher's: Are they crazy not to see this is marvelous?! Then I question my own: Who are you to think your story is better than anyone else's? Then I rest. I take a day or two, or week off writing and start thinking about what I do have instead of what I don't. Like you I have a writing ability and technique that draws attention. Your story is not floating, it is waiting to land in the hands of the right person/publisher. What you DO have is; it is out there! This year is going to be your year!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--I hope you are right. Thanks for the kind words. I'm looking forward to 2020 being a wonderful year for all of us.

Pat Wahler said...

Do you know how few people who want to write a book actually do it? You have achieved a major accomplishment. Now all you need to do is find the right home for it...and plug away on your next manuscript!

Lynn said...

Okay, at this rate I'm never going to get anything done Ms. Prolific Writer...

Thanks for sharing.

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