Jay Lake and persistence. Also, I ask questions


Questions at the bottom of this post.

Jay Lake posted a couple days ago about “psychotic persistence”, the quality a writer needs to perservere in the face of rejection after rejection. And it’s a good post, although I wouldn’t say I kept writing and submitting because I’m “persistent.” Frankly, I think persistence is the outward appearance; the deep reasons a writer gives up are something else.

In my case, it would be more accurate to say that I’m a secret egomaniac–I always believed I would be published. Right now, seven months before my novel comes out, I expect to be a best-seller and win all sorts of awards, and if it doesn’t happen with that first book the next one will do it, certainly. Or the one after that. Luckily, I have enough common sense to keep that to myself (oops).

So, speaking only for myself, persistence? That’s not what it was. It may have looked like persistence to my wife (poor, suffering woman), but the real fuel was the belief that I was good at this–or at least that I would be good at this with a leetle bit more practice, even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Others, I’m sure, persist for other reasons.

One other thing I wanted to comment on is his obligatory jealousy comment. Usually, I enjoy Jay’s posts and comments very much, but I find his comments on this subject a little irksome. For instance.

Now, I imagine he has a personal history with writerly jealousy (actually, am I remembering that he wrote a post about it? I’m not sure) and maybe it’s a painful one, but I think it’s crap to tell people to stop feeling what they’re feeling. They’re human beings. Human beings have emotional reactions. Sometimes? They’re strong reactions, and sometimes they seem to come out of the blue.

Saying “blah blah rooted in irrationality” doesn’t do anything except make the speaker feel calm and sensible. “Thank you for being wise,” is… okay. I’m going to let that go without comment.

What writers need to do is control their behaviors, not their emotions. When I felt the sting of jealousy at a friend’s success, I used it as impetus to buckle down. I knew that guy was succeeding because he was doing something I wasn’t, and I tried like hell to figure out what that was.

I didn’t attack him (or her, depending on which time it happened). I didn’t tell him he’d obviously succeeded because he was buddies with someone or blew the right bigwig. That would be stupid. But I knew I wasn’t “divorced from reality.” Reality was slapping me and my secret egotism right in the face–my buddy was a pro. He knew what he was doing, and I, for all my long hours, lost sleep, and struggles, was not.

That shit hurts. Don’t purse your lips thoughtfully, stroke your chin and tell me you understand my baffling, irrational feelings.


Can I append one note to that? I like Jay Lake’s blog. I liked Rocket Science very much and plan to read more (someday, if I can ever catch up on my reading, christ). I suspect I’d like him, too. It’s just this one thing, where he poo-poos basic human emotions that really bugs me.

And now: questions! I need to replace my laptop bag. I’m hoping to get a backpack that will hold my Macbook and have enough room for my lunch and gym clothes. Anyone have a big laptop backpack they can recommend?

Next: A co-worker here at my day job is involved in fandom, and she has suggested several times that I attend Norwescon in April. “It would be a good way to promote your book,” she tells me. Personally, I’m dubious about that. Even if the convention wasn’t five months before my publication date, I don’t know how many new readers I’d earn by attending a huge SF convention (especially since I’d only be able to go on Saturday).

Go to a convention: Y/N? I wouldn’t know a soul there except this co-worker, and I’m leary of attending a big party where everyone else knows everyone else. I’m also leary of becoming part of fandom, for reasons having to do with my unease with large groups (see also: SFWA).