In my last column I wrote: It especially takes a big ego to write something different.
Think the play Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s telling of an overworked historical figure in a time of political unrest; as I write this, nominated for several Tony awards.
Think the book Call for the Dead, le Carré’s first novel that introduced the world to Smiley, with subsequent books following the poor man through one heartache after another with that cheating wife of his, all as he chased spies in the Cold War.
Think The Gremlins, Roald Dahl’s first children’s book after which he wrote more, along with films for adults such as You Only Live Twice, a “Bond, James Bond” flick .
Truthfully, there’s not a one of these stories that has anything new in them. They all deal with fear and change and other big, big concepts of life and power struggles.
They told their stories well.
What if Cornwell (le Carré) or Dahl or Miranda had listened to the agents these days making their way around writer’s conferences, studying handy little checklists of “how to submit your…ahem…little book” delivered with the threat of “break our rules and we will ignore you”?
Can you imagine it? No Smiley? No James or a giant peach?
Perish the very thought. I’m so happy these people stood up for and did not apologize for their works.
I’ve had sucky agents who tried to push me into what was nothing more than me paying for everything and getting two copies for my troubles.
I’ve had sucky deals from publishers so bad that if I had signed I would have given away all hope of ever earning a penny.
I once had a publisher [infer ironic quote marks around that word] call me, desperate to get me to write him a check, who said, “But, Angela! Don’t you want to see your name in print?”
My answer to him was, “Mine name’s been in print. I want to make some money.”
I want an excellent agent. I want a publisher with the long view.
I won’t settle for less.
Who’s up for it? Hmmmm?