Sunday, August 11, 2013

Whining is for Losers

I hate whining and whiners. Unfortunately, many of the online lists and discussions I’ve joined are filled with both.

I’ve been working at this writing stuff for over ten years now. Depending on how one chooses to view things I have either been a dismal failure or had a modicum of success.

     • I have had several stories included in anthologies.
     • The world’s largest publishers of bridge books chose to publish my book for intermediate bridge players. That book received great reviews including one from the New York Times bridge editor.
     • Barking Rain Press published my mystery BAD POLICY earlier this year; it has received very nice reader reviews.
     • Barking Rain Press will publish its sequel, CABIN FEVER next year.
     • I’m in the process of writing the first draft of the third in the series, which is tentatively called DOUBTFUL RELATIONS.

Reading the list, don’t you feel at least a bit happy for me? Why would anyone care to read time and time again about my disappointment with agents and editors who don’t have the courtesy to say “no thanks?” Why would you want to read me whine about small publishers not having sufficient budgets to promote mysteries from new, unknown authors or to read me grouse about how much time I must spend on social networks to try to spread the word?

Only psychic bleeders receive any benefit from reading such drivel. For them misery does love company and they only feel “real” when complaining. I’m not interested in feeling miserable about the choices I make. If I don’t like them, I should make different choices.

Here’s the truth every author (indeed every individual) should recognize. I’m going to shout so everyone can hear:


It never was; it never will be. There is a great bit of luck involved in the publishing world – I wish for some of it to fall my way, but it won’t happen if I choose to spend my time whining. As Ben Franklin said, “Diligence is the mother of luck.”

Oh yes, whiners do get name recognition. On the lists we share, they are much better known than I. However, I don’t know if that translates into selling books. I know I’ll never buy a title written by a whiner. I have no desire to support them, no matter how well written their book.

So writers everywhere, save me your angst about Amazon eating the independent bookstore’s young. Amazon became a success because it did a better job of filling consumer needs than the entities it crushes. If you don’t like Amazon, don’t buy anything from them (or Walmart or Apple or whomever your corporate behemoth target of the month may be). If they stop being the best at meeting consumer needs, they will suffer the consequences. (Who shops at JC Penny anymore?)

Save me from your rants that Dan Brown can’t write proper English sentences. The general public does not care about proper English. They want to read ripping good stories, and they think he writes them. I want to write them too, but diligent work, not whining, is more likely to help me succeed. And please, please, save my eyeballs from one more screed about the unfairness of the star system in publishing. Those same readers we profess to write for are the ones who make the star system possible.

If you want to undertake a rigorous, systematic study of the financial underpinnings of the publishing industry, I will welcome your documented research. If you don’t know the difference between sales and marketing, assets and liabilities, revenue and profits, then perhaps you should stick to fiction.

I encourage writers to spend time writing and positively promoting their work and the work of those they admire. If someone wants to right wrongs, and indeed there are many to choose from, I hope they will spend their time making a positive change.

Sara Paretsky knew the publishing world unfairly slanted the playing field against women. She and her cohorts formed Sisters in Crime in order to right that wrong. They took, and continue to take, positive steps to educate, inform, and influence those who can make a difference. I choose to stand side-by-side with these women in their struggle for equal treatment. The psychic bleeders who moan and groan their way to feeling good about themselves do nothing to improve anyone’s lot, and the best I can do for myself is ignore them.

~ Jim


  1. I like it, Jim.

    People crave emotional support, in any job. Posting about a frustrating writing day or disappointing rejection, or if you've hit a slump, seems okay to me. Peers respond with uplifting comments or encouragement, and you feel supported. That's great. I like the community feeling in the writing world. But woe is me gets old. I also think readers would not want to hear this, at all.

  2. Ramona,

    I think you've nailed it. The community of writers is very supportive.

    We're great at helping making joyful occasions a reason for communal celebration.

    We're also good at commiserating over a setback and reminding each other that rejection says nothing about us as people, just that our opus has not found the right home.

    It's the woe is me that sets me to gritting teeth...

    ~ Jim

  3. You tell 'em, Jim.

    I can stand and look at other authors' success and see that part of it IS luck in a way I've never experienced (YET) and feel just a tad envious, but I can't whine about it.

    We're all on our own journeys.

  4. I absolutely love this line, Jim:

    The psychic bleeders who moan and groan their way to feeling good about themselves do nothing to improve anyone’s lot, and the best I can do for myself is ignore them.


  5. Your post reminds me of the Eagles' song, "Get Over it."

  6. Jim, I think you are a great success because you're a working writer. I'm very happy for you and sincerely hope your success increases, in recognition and assets!

  7. Sarah - feel free to steal the line, or use it with attribution, as you wish.

    Warren - I wasn't familiar with the song, so I went to YouTube and found
    - which I love. Thanks.

    Paula - aren't you just the nicest person in the world?

  8. Whoops - my attempted link didn't show up. Here it is again

  9. I think occasional whining is fine, acceptable, understandable and human. That doesn't mean that the writer isn't trying hard enough or that he is a sad sack. People need to commiserate at times. Not all the time, but every once in a while--sure, and as a writer and as a friend to other writers, yes, I'll listen, sympathize and then go my own way. Someday, I may need an understanding ear. No achtung baby for me. Maybe it's a female thing, but I try to understand--who knows I may use it in a book.

  10. EB,

    If it's an occasional gripe or the need let people know what's happening, that doesn't meet my definition of whining.

    But if that's all we hear -- or if it's all the time, you've crossed my line.

    But then again, I never claimed to be Mr. Empathetic.

    ~ Jim