Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I suppose I could blame George Bush

Early on in my career, I was hired to do a writing job, which I guess I didn't do too well, since my work was never used and I was told (in the most polite of terms) never to darken their doorstep again.

I felt hopelessly inadequate.

Shortly thereafter, I read an article in the New York Times that changed my life. It said that when women failed at a job, they took full responsibility. When men failed at a job, they blamed someone else.

Instantly I understood the benefits of the male perspective, and thereafter have always found someone else to blame. Sometimes it's a challenge, but there's usually someone around to take on the responsibilities of my failures.

Trust me. The system works.

The other day, I discovered a most likely negative review of Life As We Knew It. I can only assume it was negative, because I didn't read the bulk of it. I never read bad reviews of my work, a policy which has enabled me to maintain my peaches 'n cream complexion and robust ego.

I did notice in my rapid perusal that the author of the review claimed if she were confronted with the end of the world, she'd think to buy rice.

I'd give you a link to this review, since my editor has been kind enough to try and teach me how, but I'm not about to start linking with something that most likely has very little good to say about my book. However my editor has earned a pass on bearing responsibility for my failures (at least for as long as it takes me to write this blog entry), and thus, although every instinct I have says, "It's all my editor's fault Mom didn't buy rice!" I can't foist blame on her. Drat.

But it's clearly not my fault. Someone should have noticed the great rice shortage. I didn't, because I don't much like rice (although I can hardly stand to be in the same room as a glass of milk and Mom did see to it that they bought milk, which is proof, if any is needed, that one is more likely to remember something that one loathes than to remember something that one has only mild disdain for).

Still, a lot of people work at Harcourt, and one of them should have said, "Why didn't Mom buy rice and thus in the future no one will be able to write a bad review of Life As We Knew It and mention the lack of that particular staple of human existence?" That's their job, after all. My job is to maintain my peaches 'n cream complexion, and I certainly don't ask Harcourt for help with that.

On Monday, I got an e-mail from my editor saying the official title for The Dead And The Gone is now the dead & the gone. At least for the time being.

Every part of this title is my choice. I named the book The Dead And The Gone in the first place, and then when I saw my editor referring to it as The Dead & the Gone, suggested keeping the & and dumping the capitals

I find being fully responsible for anything very uncomfortable. Success, as far as I'm concerned, has but one mother, and failure as many parents as I can come up with.

The possibility that the title will be loathed and there's not enough rice in the book is enough to make me desperate. Soon I'll be stopping strangers on the street, pointing my finger at them, and crying out, "It's all your fault!"

Oh wait. I do that already...


Marci said...

Rice requires a lot more cooking than veggies in a can and is susceptible to bug infestation (unless one buys instant rice which is gross and has so little resemblance to actual food that even bugs are likely to disdain it) so really Mom knew best.

e.e. cummings would be proud of your editor for coming up with a no caps title for the new book.

Anyway, go ahead and blame Bush. Why not? It's all his fault!

Diane Chen said...

Actually I was far less concerned with the lack of rice because I view it culturally (rice, noodles, bread pancake patties, taro pie. I am much more concerned at everyone's neglecting to bring enough chocolate. Listen, if the end of the world is near, I'm going to die happily eating chocolate. So I have now put a note on my cell phone reminding me that if a disaster strikes, I'd better remember to race through the baking aisle and buy enough chocolate chips. Otherwise any other humans left on this planet are going to find me so disagreeable, they'll finish me off.

Marci said...

Diane, you are my soul mate. And for me, it has to be dark chocolate! Chocolate chips would be just fine. The heck with rice, bring on the chocolate!

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I googled that review and the reviewer rename Miranda Lisa, for some reason. That's probably not her fault either, but I'm just sayin'.

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