Public Shame

So here I am, revealing in a blog that I’m pretty sure no one is reading yet, since most don’t even know I’ve created this blog yet, that I am entering contests and submitting things to some pretty lofty goal-ish places, like the New Yorker, Asimov’s and Fantasy Magazine. Hell, I plan to win a Nebula. There, I said it. It’s true.

Of course, we know if I don’t win, since I’ve put it out here on my blog, my shame will be public. Then again, that means the success will be public too.

I’ve submitted my novel WHAT BROTHERS DO to a few agents. The responses have been lukewarm to stock to nonexistent. I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed. I mean, I’ve read the book and I like it. That should be enough, right? Seriously, though, the people I have shared the polished version of the book with have been left speechless. One person started reading it, intent on reading a few chapters and then going to bed. I woke to an IM from her that she sent at five in the morning, reading, “Damn you, Michy.” She had intended to go to bed, but instead, had to stay up to finish reading my book. She cried. She said, also in the same offline IM, “I don’t now cry at books.” Then she damned me again.

So far, of the small circle of people I’ve let read this book, and they are my harshest critics to be sure, every one of them has cried, and then, perhaps a little rejoiced, but they all tell me the same thing: this is a good book.

Is it ego to think the book is spectacular and that the agents are just so busy, so overwhelmed and overrun that they can’t see it from just the query alone? I admit, I suck at queries, but I excel at emotive and evocative writing. There must be a balance somewhere. I hope to find it.

But I do know one thing: BROTHERS isn’t blockbuster material. It’s a good, quality story. It touches. It turns our heads. It pulls at heartstrings. It reminds us who we are and why we live, how we respond to ordinary and extraordinary things. It reminds us of the importance of family and love. It holds us down and then lifts us up. It’s good stuff, man. Good stuff.

But it’s not breakout novel stuff. I realize that now. I do. I still find myself wishing some agent would read it, actually READ the story. Its time will come. I know that. It will likely be a few years down the road after my first novel, some breakout success that appeases the interesting and quirky sensibilities of the masses – you know, the ‘people at large’ sort of thing – and then, when I have captured them with that voice, I will clear my throat and enthrall them with something deeper, richer and infinitely more compelling. That’s when BROTHERS will see success.

It’s also not that I don’t have other works in progress that are worthy or perhaps, and in fact for certain, worthier than BROTHERS. RELUCTANTLY HUMAN is an amazing story, and I’m almost finished writing it. Okay, so I’m not. I’m only about halfway finished writing it, but I’m getting there. ACCEPTING AIMEE will likely be my breakout novel from the Covington Confesions series of chick-lit and woman’s fiction genres. Literary fiction meets Sex and the City, grunge style. Whatever.

Do I sound jaded before my fiction career even really launches? Nope. But I am realistic. I know if I want to make it–and I AM going to make it, mark my words–that I have to keep writing, even if BROTHERS never sells. I have to keep writing even if the first 50 novels I write don’t sell.

Well, okay, if I write 50 novels and not one of them manages to land a publisher or agent, I probably need to reevaluate at least a little bit. Maybe.

The point is: perseverance. I think perseverance is more important than just about any other aspect of this ride. That and a little luck can get you pretty far. Being a good writer sorta just comes along for the ride. I’m fortunate I have that one aspect down. Now, if someone can sell me a little luck, I’m buying. Perseverance? Yeah, I got your perseverance right here, buddy.

So you, agent, who rejected me so politely today, thank you. I’ll remember you when the agent who is cashing my million-dollar checks is pouring me a glass of champagne to celebrate yet another successful book launch. Oh, who am I kidding? No, I won’t. I’ll be in my office doing what I always do: writing another novel.

But one day, I will be on that NYT best sellers list. Mark my words. I will be. And when I am, maybe I’ll have a fan who comes here to this blog and reads every single one of my posts. And when he or she comes all the way back to this, the third post on this blog, and read it, just because *I* am the one who wrote it — well, if you’re that person and it’s a few years down the road from the date on this blog — email me. I’ll meet you for lunch anywhere you want to go.

Love and stuff,

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14 comments to Public Shame

  • Susan S  says:

    I’m convinced every will-be author fantasizes about potential agents clutching their novel to their breast and beating down the other agents to sign them first. (Or maybe that’s just me) Maybe it won’t happen exactly that way, but it’ll happen. Mark my words.

    And when that fan comes back here in a few years and you set that lunch date, go ahead and pencil me in too. I would like to be there to say, “I told ya so” 🙂

  • The Robert  says:

    You pick the place, I’ll buy the lunch.

  • theBarefoot  says:

    Words marked. You know I never forget to use this kind of stuff years later. 🙂

  • admin  says:

    Susan, no penciling for you. I’ve got you written in ink and would be honored to hear your I told ya so!, since we’ll both be celebrating our writing successes at that time, now won’t we?

    Thanks, Robert. I’m thinking somewhere warm with lots of seafood and mimosas (nodding).

    Randy, this is one I will be glad to have you use against me in the future, particularly if it does happen!

  • Opher  says:


    There is no doubt in my mind that you will succeed, and I will hold you to your promises above too, even if they were not made to me personally :).

    Best, Opher

  • sharkbytes  says:

    Go Michy! I’m sure you’ll make it. Just finished one of those “blockbuster” novels today, and I was thinking… this isn’t so spectacular, in fact, this one part doesn’t even make sense. So one of these days someone is going to decide that one of your books will “sell.” Then you can write anything (not that you would write something that didn’t make sense) and people will want it. And you are miles ahead of me.

  • Pamela Gifford  says:

    Michy, I’ve been doing this type of blog for almost a year. Every time I submit ANYTHING, I update my blog and announce it. It’s great when I can report that I’ve published but not so great when I get a rejection, but you know the whole point of it? It’s to show other writers that persistence DOES pay off in the end. If more writers would realize that, I think so many writers wouldn’t be so down on themselves and wouldn’t allow rejections to discourage them so much. Oh, and I got one out to Asimov’s, too. Rock, paper, scissors for that Nebulae Award? LOL

  • Tweets that mention Public Shame --  says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MichelleLDevon. MichelleLDevon said: Public Shame: (on #writing) […]

  • Death Knight [Dk]  says:

    Hi Michy

    I stumbled upon this blog just by chance and oh my, what a post!

    Seriously I am sure you will make it and your dreams will come true. Because if passionate people don’t find success in life then who else will?

    Also I do know that finding agents and publishers involve luck and sometimes very good authors have a tough time getting their book published. But heck, who am I telling all this. You certainly know better than me!

    I would just like to share a quote I read somewhere which pertains to this context…

    “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

  • Michelle Devon  says:

    Thank you, everyone! I’ll try to remember you all when I give my acceptance speech for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer!

  • rudy  says:

    I’m reading, but not simply because you wrote it. Because I enjoy reading what you write, how you write. The same way there is somebody for everybody, I believe there is a publisher for every deserving novel. Yours will find its place. And you’d better find a bigass place for that lunch, girlfriend.

  • Thomas Forthe  says:

    Oh but you are so going to have to rent a hall big enough to hold all of us and the lunch staff too!

  • Shu Kemmerer  says:

    Great one. Thanks and favorited.

  • MarkSpizer  says:

    great post as usual!

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