Monday, September 08, 2008

"how can you stand to write that crap?"

Since I've been pregnant, I notice that I've become public property. Everyone likes to touch my belly and ask when the baby's due and whether it's a boy or a girl and whether it's twins, because I'm so HUGE. Fortunately, i have no boundaries and am a middle child, so the attention is totally welcome. 

Not so welcome is the attention I've gotten since the mid-'90s, when I went from writing little smart articles for little smart (poor) publications to more mainstream article for big fat (rich) publications. People seem entirely content to look at something I wrote and say whatever shitty and insulting thing comes to mind, and every single one of them is burned into my brain. 

Just in case you don't believe me, here's a partial list:

  • "No offense, but your magazine's worse for women than Hustler." (nb: six months later, the same person was begging me to get her novel excerpted in that same magazine)
  • "I just can't believe you think it's OK to pump that crap out." (two weeks later, an email from this person asking how she could freelance for my magazine)
  • "Why not just write for Bust or Ms.?" (I was able to tell this person that, in fact, I was writing a feature for Bust that was paying me $150, while the Maxim feature she was bitching about had paid literally 20 times that)
  • "We don't want any more of these." (An agent, indicating the three-book arc I'd written about teens who become reality TV stars. My babies! We don't want any more of my babies?) 
  • "Well, how about this... is that stupid enough for your article? (This from an expert who was getting free publicity for her stupid sex-advice book via my stupid article)
  • "You mean there's a difference between Glamour and Self? I thought they were all just 'ten ways to get a guy to hand over his wallet.'" (I reserve comment.)
  • "I can not believe you got paid money to write... that." (Full disclosure: the story I had pulled out was really silly. On the other hand, fuck you. What did you ever get paid to write? Actual answer: "A lot of money.")
  • "No seriously, I'm totally impressed that you wrote books! This just isn't the kind of thing I usually read." (I've had 2 husbands and 2 serious boyfriends since I started writing books, and 0% of them has managed to plow through my prose. Granted, they're essentially Gossip Girl with less sex and more smarts, but how hard could it be?) 
  • "Good lord, can't you just write for the New Yorker?" (Yes, mom. I can, I just won't.)
Usually I take the criticism in stride. Yes, it's odd to me that, like lawyers and Catholics, I seem to be in a group that it's just considered OK to take pot-shots at. (at which it's OK to... oh, never mind.) Sometimes it rankles. What are you gonna do? 

No seriously, is there something I can do?! 

4 comments:

The Bureauista said...

Wow. On the one hand, it's great that people you know are actually reading your work at all (I write textbooks, and no one outside my immediate family has every expressed the slightest interest in reading them), but on the other hand, you have some rude friends! I wonder if it's something to do with the medium of magazine publishing itself? If you say you write for the New York Times possibly people are slightly intimidated, whereas magazines are perceived to be less weighty and their content therefore more open to criticism? I suppose you could always start turning the tables on them and start criticising their cooking, choice of wine, style of dress ... (p.s. found your blog through the blog networks app on Facebook)

Madfoot said...

oh yeah, it's the medium. i think most of the time people haven't even read what I wrote -- they see that it's in a glossy publication they've prejudged as idiotic, and feel free to show how smart they are by shitting on it. Isn't it odd!

I'm off to find you on Facebook... yay!

washwords said...

ha ha ha ha. yes, I sooo have been here. It reminds me too a bit of folks who were like "wow, you always seem to get good jobs, can you get one for [insert favorite slug /couch potato/jerkoff here]?" The clear implication being wow if YOU can do it, guess anyone can, not that it had ANNNNYthing to do with talent/hard-work, blah blah blah.

And yes, the media is soooo fun and easy to bash? I used to get sanctimonious and remind anyone who did that when interning at newsweek I was told this story of how afraid the editors were to put a violent horrific image on its cover depicting the travesties in Sarajevo. The response: zero, zilch, nada. What got the biggest response of all time? Princess Diana.

This is a bit like people who blame "society." But you ARE society? Is it our responsibility as mediaistas to only write about Serious Heavy Matters (like you know emily whatshername in the oh-so-serious NYT magazine whining about how tough it was to be 22 or so and getting to write for national media outlets about her own (boring) life. boo hoo, cry me a river, right?)

I also note that there ARE good magazines, non-standard fare out there, easy to get - the economist, atlantic, new republic, utne reader. Funny how those pubs never seem to have many readers huh? Not funny ha ha.

thanks, love your blog. write more more more! and I promise I will read more more more

washwords said...

ha ha ha ha. yes, I sooo have been here. It reminds me too a bit of folks who were like "wow, you always seem to get good jobs, can you get one for [insert favorite slug /couch potato/jerkoff here]?" The clear implication being wow if YOU can do it, guess anyone can, not that it had ANNNNYthing to do with talent/hard-work, blah blah blah.

And yes, the media is soooo fun and easy to bash? I used to get sanctimonious and remind anyone who did that when interning at newsweek I was told this story of how afraid the editors were to put a violent horrific image on its cover depicting the travesties in Sarajevo. The response: zero, zilch, nada. What got the biggest response of all time? Princess Diana.

This is a bit like people who blame "society." But you ARE society? Is it our responsibility as mediaistas to only write about Serious Heavy Matters (like you know emily whatshername in the oh-so-serious NYT magazine whining about how tough it was to be 22 or so and getting to write for national media outlets about her own (boring) life. boo hoo, cry me a river, right?)

I also note that there ARE good magazines, non-standard fare out there, easy to get - the economist, atlantic, new republic, utne reader. Funny how those pubs never seem to have many readers huh? Not funny ha ha.

thanks, love your blog. write more more more! and I promise I will read more more more