Meg’s Media Round Up/Mail Room
So if you read this blog, you know I am in deep in the middle of Princess Diaries 7 right now. I just want to tell you, in case you haven't figured it out: it's not pretty.
Not the book. ME. I haven't washed my hair since Friday. LAST Friday. I have Band Aids on all my fingers (like Michael Jackson) to keep me from biting all my nails off. I think I'm dehydrated from too much Tab. There's sugar-free chocolate all over my pillowcases. I accidentally bought Henrietta Little Friskies instead of Iams (okay, it was an experiment, not an accident) and after being all, “Cookies for breakfast!” at first, she promptly threw up all over the place.
And worse than throw up, actually.
It took forever to clean up.
Just in case you thought authors lead lives of endless glamour.
Having a houseful of relatives for Thanksgiving didn't help much, but I think they had fun and it was nice to see my niece, who is now talking. Well, okay, she says “Da!” and “Kee.” “Da” is what she calls anything that isn't a cat, which is “kee.” She was very interested in my “kee”, but let's just say Henrietta was not so interested in her.
Oh, sure, at first Henrietta was oddly fascinated, having never seen such a short human before. Especially one that smelled so nicely of milk.
But after said human flung her arm out and shrieked “Kee!” with all the glee and enthusiasm only a one year old can muster, Henrietta took to growling menacingly and fleeing under the bed anytime my niece—or anyone else–came near.
She still hasn't really come out and they've been gone for a week.
The holidays are clearly too much for Henrietta to handle, which is why we don't decorate for them around my house, as it would just serve to confuse our poor, sensitive, mentally-challenged little cat, who once mistook a pair of shoes for a dog, and the dog for shoes.
Anyway, since I'm so wrapped up in PD7, I haven't had time to watch much TV—or shave my legs–but I did finally get my living room cleared out of giant steel hoods that are supposed to go over the stove, so I can actually access the TiVo again. I am all caught up on quite a few shows, such as “America's Next Top Model,” “Lost,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The OC,” “Degrassi,” and have made significant headway into others like “Joan of Arcadia.” I somehow missed the last episode of “Rescue Me” and Tvtome was no help, so if anyone knows what happened in the finale, please let me know.
I have to say, I'm not enjoying the Seth/Summer thing on “The OC.” I don't want to give away what's happening because not everyone gets the series at the same time. But I will say that it's hard when the characters you like most are, um, the parents.
What else? Oh, I went to go see “The Incredibles,” which was incredible. More incredible was that during the coming attractions they showed a preview of the new Winnie the Pooh movie, the one about the Heffalump, and it gave me this fantastic idea for PD7. It is pretty sad when you get ideas for your book from a pink elephant, but there you go. People are always asking, “Where do you get your ideas?” And in this one case, anyway, I'll be able to go, “Um. The Heffalump.”
And I managed to download some stuff from iTunes, including the new Eminem album and Gwen Stefani's solo album. Both are lovely. Poor Eminem. I wish he would meet a nice girl who didn't want him for his money or be trippin on him.
And thank God I saw last night's “America's Next Top Model” or I never would have known who the Harajuku girls are and why Gwen has them in so many songs. Phew.
Oh, I've been getting some pretty nifty emails lately. Here is a fave:
How do you handle the fact that so many people hate your books? That must be really hard ;-)!
You know, that smiley face at the end really takes the edge off, don't you think?
But here's the thing: I can't even take offense, because it's true. My books have been hated for a loooong time. Way before any of you ever saw them. They've been hated since I first started writing them and sending them to publishers. And that was, like, almost ten years ago. I mean, for Princess Diaries alone I got rejection letters that said things like, “This book is not fit for children. Or anyone.” And even Publisher's Weekly called it sophomoric and slapstick (which is what a certain teacher calls a certain princess's descriptive essay, if you'll recall, those of you who have read Princess Diaries 6, wink, wink. Did you think I just pulled that one out of a hat? Oh, no).
What would have happened if I had listened to all the publishers and reviewers who hated on my books? Well, there wouldn't be any books.
Also, for those of you outraged by the Meg Cabutt “Princess Diarrheas” thing in Nickelodeon Magazine…I myself found it hilarious. I mean, you know you've made it to the big time when they start spoofing you. So I don't mind a bit.
And it's not as bad as what kids used to call me in school (Maggot Cabbage. Surprisingly, no one thought of Meg Cabutt. How sad for them).
And if, of course, I'd listened to all the people who called me Maggot Cabbage and just quit, I wouldn't get letters like this:
i never liked readin til I found ur books… u hav inspried me 2 wryt my own diaries…it has helped me over come my anger…
Not that I'm, like, super confident that this is a career that's going to last me a lifetime, or anything. I don't ACCEPT the hate. But I do ACKNOWLEDGE that it exists, and take appropriate precautions.
But I don't QUIT.
Speaking of people hating on your books, here's this:
How did you do it? How did you keep your self together when all you get back from publishers/agents is “Thank you for your query. Unfortunately I do not think the project is right for me.” ? HOW DID YOU DO IT??? Because I honestly think that I'm going to loose me will and mind on this. So if you have any tips and how to keep my sanity during this time, please tell me. They would be very much apprecitated. Thank you for your time.
You know, even though I am a bestselling author and all, I still get rejected. An article I worked really hard on for a pretty famous magazine got rejected just the other day.
Did it make me mad? Yeah. Am I giving up writing forever? No.
Again, if we all just accepted rejection and gave up, there would be no books. There'd be no Harry Potter (JK Rowling was rejected like a gazillion times) or Stephanie Plum (I'm assuming Janet Evanovich got rejected, I don't actually know, but let's face it, we all did, and she's a really nice lady so I think she'd be the first to admit it if she HAD ever been rejected). The publishing business is very subjective and not everyone is going to like your books, even if they turn out to be modern classics like “Carrie” or “Bridget Jones.”
You know, this reminds me of something Tyra Banks' mom said on “America's Next Top Model” last night: If you want to succeed in the modeling business (or ANY business) you have to develop a thick skin. You are going to be facing rejection EVERY DAY. You can't take it personally. You have to get over it.
Another lesson learned from “America's Next Top Model.” And why the whole world should be watching this show.
Here's another email:
Hey I dont wan
t to be mean or anything, but I havent liked your recent books. I know thats its inly my oppinion, but I really liked your older books. (Mediator exc.) There was so much more detal in them. In the last Mediator book it was so empty… And its really disapointing because you are one of my favoriate author. Maybe you shoud try to only write one book a year and not like 3 lol.
I love how she says she doesn't want to be mean or anything. LOVE that. Next time I don't like something my husband cooked for dinner, I'm going to be all, “I don't mean to be mean, but I haven't liked your recent cooking.”
You know what he'd do? Throw whatever it was he'd slaved over all day in my face (actually he wouldn't, he'd just ignore me).
Still. I would totally deserve it.
Let's get something straight: If you are about to say something, and you feel the need to preface it by saying, “I don't want to be mean,” then what you are about to say IS mean, and you SHOULDN'T SAY IT AT ALL. If, of course, you really don't want to be mean.
This was a popular trick, by the way, of many of the cheerleaders who went to the various schools I attended. They often said things to me like, “I don't want to be mean, but that sweater really doesn't go with the skirt.” “I don't want to be mean, but why are you wearing a bra when you have nothing to put in it?”
In EVERY SINGLE CASE, they really did want to be mean. They just thought that by SAYING they didn't, they were off the hook somehow.
No. Uh-huh. You are not fooling anyone. You DO want to be mean, and saying you don't doesn't make it ANY LESS MEAN.
You know what I hate, by the way? The misuse of the word “lol.” First of all, it's not even a real word. Second of all, it means Laughing out loud. And why is this person “laughing out loud” at her suggestion that I should only write one book a year? Why is that funny? I myself did not laugh out loud when I read that.
You know what IS funny, though? The fact that those Mediator books she likes so much? I wrote those the year I had twelve books due in twelve months. Yeah. One book a month. I assume she's referring to Haunted when she says “the last Mediator” book because Twilight isn't out yet. And Haunted was like the longest, most detailed of all of them. The one I took the most time to write. The one I SLAVED over.
And this is the thanks I get.
More proof that books really are subjective, and you can never please everyone.
But let's not dwell on the “I don't want to be mean/lol” people, shall we? Here's a LOVELY email that I adored:
You are my favourite author ever, because you really know how girls our age feel. i dont know weather i would like to find out that i wos a princess!
Youre books are my favourite books of all time, and I enjoy them so much i read them in about one week! I know that doesnt sound very quick but it normally takes me about 3 weeks for other books! X X X X X X X X X
Okay, now, THIS is the kind of email I like. Notice how there isn't a single “I don't mean to be mean, but”? And no sarcastic “lols”. Notice how this reader says kind things to me, which in turn make me want to write more books?
Yeah. We like emails like this. And this:
In a fit of “I need to know” I had to contact you….
I got an email from an editor saying that I should read the very first page of the first Princess Diaries as a “wonderful example of a perfect first page”
My ??? for ya: was the aforementioned page o'excellence a repeated revision result? Or an “it just came outta me this way” gift?
This is a very excellent email, and not just because it reveals that some editor who probably rejected me once is now telling other authors that the first page of one of my books is a wonderful example of a perfect first page. It is an excellent email because its author genuinely thinks I might just have dashed off that first page effortlessly, which is of course how you WANT people to feel about your first page.
But of course, that isn't true. I slave over ALL my first pages. In fact, every single day that I am working on a book, I go back and look at the first page and tinker with it, and most of the following pages, right up until the day the book is due and I have to hand it in.
In the world of writing there are what are called “egg dropping” authors and “egg polishing” authors. An egg dropper is a chicken (or author) who lays an egg and then moves on to the next egg. An egg polisher is a chicken (or author) who lays one egg and then hangs around polishing that egg until someone takes it away from her and she is forced to lay another one just to have something to do.
I am an egg polisher. I tinker with all my books until the last possible moment, then I hand it in. And wish never to see it again, because I have laid a new egg.
But of course they always send that tired old egg back for edits and stuff. Which is why I hate rewriting, because by that time, I've always moved on to a new egg.
Anyway, I hope that answers your question.
Here's another email I got today:
Hi! I read your Mediator and 1-800-where-are-you series! After the 1st page I couldn't put them down! They are romantic, but adventurous at the same time! They are the BEST books I ever read! I think you are a fabulous writer and I look up to you and wish I could write like you! I loved the Mediator ones especially! You are the best author ever! PLEASE send me a reply! It would mean SO much to me!
This is really a model email. Like, if I were to run a contest for America's Top Email To An Author, this one would rank VERY VERY highly. Notice the liberal use of exclamation points. High, high marks for anyone who doesn't skimp with the exclamation marks. No sarcastic lols or I don't want to be mean, buts. Truly, an excellent email. Thank you, Beth.
There are many more excellent emails I could pull out of the mail bag, but I should stop now, because it's time to get back to work on PD7. 50 pages to go.
Not that I'm counting.