Archive for January, 2012

And we won’t.  But days like today pretty much confirm that I’m in the wrong line of work.  And yet, I have no idea what the right line of work would be.

(“Aristocrat” is not an option, apparently.  Neither is “layabout.”)


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Via kottke, as is everything: dubstep remixes of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.


Kind of awesome, in its own way.

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Some time ago, I wrote about the trouble I was having with a manuscript for a short novel entitled The Burning House (TBH).  This was a sequel to another short novel from 2009 thatI had been calling A Perfect Wife.  I had shopped A Perfect Wife around to a few agents — about ten — and at least one was interested enough to ask for the first 100 pages, and then the entire manuscript, before saying no dice.  I then kind of gave up on marketing it — not officially, mind you, but I didn’t send it out again.  I intended to, but didn’t.  Story of my life.

I had read some advice somewhere (probably in Betsy Lerner’s book)  that the best approach to submitting a manuscript is to get deeply involved in a new project at the same time.  That way, when the rejections come in, you have something else to think about (other than killing yourself).  With that in mind, I started one project and then another, but never could find any traction.  Finally, I followed the only course that made any creative sense: I picked up the story of the characters from A Perfect Wife a bit later in time.  That turned into The Burning House.   Which, for those keeping score, was a sequel to a novel that no one wanted in the first place.  As futile as it seemed, I felt good about what I was writing.  I resolved to finish it in 2011.

And I did!  I sent the manuscript for The Burning House to my proofreader, a lovely friend from graduate school, and finished the edits on New Year’s Eve.  In addition, I received some thought-provoking feedback from a reader, to the effect that A Perfect Wife didn’t have a very satisfactory ending.  In addition, people disliked the title.

So, enter the new and improved The Burning House — not a sequel to anything, but one longish novel (about 150,000 words), which contains the former A Perfect Wife as “Part I” and the thing I just finished up as “Part II.”  It has a better title.  It has an ending.  It has an arc.

And it has probably zero chance of finding a place on a bookshelf at your local retailer.  But here’s the plan: I’m going to try the whole traditional marketing thing (i.e., querying agents and maybe some small presses).  If that doesn’t work, I’m going to put it out myself through Amazon or some other service.  Maybe this time next year, you can read it on your Kindle!  It’ll be cheap, I promise.

And suddenly,  I’m brimming over with ideas for another installment in this series, if that’s what this is.  Stay tuned.

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The head of the American Bar Association, which accredits and to a small extent regulates law schools, doesn’t accept responsibility for new law graduates who have lots of debts and can’t find jobs.

“It’s inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate-level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago,” he said.

If I were him, I wouldn’t accept responsibility for ruining so many lives, either.  And he’s right — in that he didn’t personally make anyone take out loans and go to law school. Probably.

In the past four years or so, I’ve watched a number of really bright young people pull up stakes and head to law school (leaving pretty good jobs to do so!).  It breaks my heart, at least in part because these new law students of my acquintance were really the best elements of society: intelligent, determined, energetic, organized, superachievers.  (Full disclosure: A couple of them were hot.)  For whatever reason — certainly not because the head of the ABA told them so — they saw law school as a path to a better life.  Not just a path, but an escalator, a safe and  automatic improvement to their standard of living forever.

To change metaphors, my young friends thought they were buying a better class of life.  Instead, they were buying very expensive lottery tickets.

I’ve written before about how law school is not a very good deal for most people.  It isn’t.  (It’s worked out pretty well for me, but that’s another story.)  And yet new college grads fall all over themselves to go to law school, any law school, just to take advantage of this shit deal.  And the ones that I’ve spoken to are aware of the costs, in an abstract way, but are so excited to have something to do. (I’m going to be a lawyer!  Isn’t that cool?)

It’s almost as though these consumers aren’t in a good position to judge whether law school is in their ultimate best interests.  Who could do something to correct this situation?  Certainly not the head of the ABA.  Certainly not.

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As puzzling as I found Penelope Trunk’s recent (and ongoing?) blog conversation about her (real? made up?) abusive domestic situation, she did make a point that I agree with.  In a post entitled, “Zero tolerance for domestic violence is wrong,” she gets sniffy about her commenters telling her what they think about the abuse that she had just told them about.  You can go read that post for yourself and marvel at its weirdness.

But when we say zero tolerance, we just mean I won’t put up with this.   We don’t mean that no one in the world will ever put up with this, unless we are sheltered.  But as she points out, there are situations in which a very bad situation is arguably better than the alternatives.  You might rather stay with your father who hits you than go live with your mother whose boyfriend wants to rape you — or, frankly, you might choose to take your chances with the boyfriend.  These are the choices made by people who don’t have resources, people who will help them, adequate information.  (And if you aren’t willing to step in and provide some help, you can’t judge that kind of choice.)

Penelope is not one of those people.  Penelope is a good example (to the extent that she’s telling the truth) of how people in these bad situations see things differently than those of us who are not.  The story about her parents and the paint, though, is transparent bullshit of the this happened when I was a kid so it was always going to happen and couldn’t have happened any other way variety.


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Q: Why did the bright young man become a lawyer?

A: Because he was dead inside!


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Here’s a song that I’ve been obsessed about for several weeks.  It’s from a video game, and I don’t play video games.  But I do listen to songs!  The song is in the voice of an evil computer that you have defeated after it’s tormented you through room after room of puzzles and deadly traps.  You think you’ve destroyed its central core, but after you leave the underground complex, the computer comes back to sing you this incredibly passive-aggressive song about how you’ve only vindicated its results and it’s glad that you are doing so well.  But soon you’ll be dead, and it will live on.

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