Whoever thought it was a good idea to send writers out to play on the internet was a psychopath.
With its smorgasbord of otter videos and dancing parrots, not only is the internet a time-sucking quagmire of procrastination, it is also the cruelest of playgrounds trolled by the same kind of snarky bullies whose taunts made us writers to begin with.
Case in point: Jennifer Weiner, a fabulously famous author who has spun, and, of late, been trapped, in her own world wide web. I know that web. Its sticky strings one night caught me, too, except in this case Weiner was the spider and I was the miserable bug.
The most recent brouhaha centers around a Facebook rant Weiner posted, then deleted, then kind of apologized for, over a snub of her upcoming collection of personal essays. This time the perceived snub wasn’t by the fellow snob author Jonathan Franzen whom Weiner has been in a very public war, but by the all-mighty Oprah. And Oprah is all about women power, right?
You can read about Weiner’s rant, recanted rant, and internet backlash here. In sum, Oprah chose for her October Book Club selection Glennon Doyle’s memoir, LOVE WARRIOR about the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood, over Weiner’s October release, HUNGRY HEART, about the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
That Hungry Heart’s Amazon page features a highlighted plug for Love Warrior as Oprah’s Pick has gotta hurt. (Thanks, algorithms!) That Doyle is a tiny blonde apparently doesn’t help either, as Weiner – who recentlyunderwent weight-loss surgery – herself hinted in her FB apology:
But I am not going to lie and tell you that I haven’t been really sad about this….or that there isn’t a voice in my head (a small, sad voice) that sees a slim, blond, traditionally attractive woman getting something great and thinks, Oh, well, of course. Of course that’s why. Nobody wants someone who looks like you in their magazine or on their TV show. It’s crazy and untrue and I’d never let a friend talk to herself that way…but there it is.
Geesh. See what I mean about keeping sensitive writers off the internet?
Ten years ago when I was riding the merry-go-round of six-figure book deals, film options, national touring and code-red career angst, I wrote a blog for the Lipstick Chronicles that casually critiqued a plot twist in one of Weiner’s books about the empowerment of an overweight woman who, in the end, loses the weight accidentally and ends up marrying a doctor.
That night I was treated to a late-night email screed in which Weiner read me the riot act for my misreading of the weight-loss angle (the character still wasn’t happy, see?) Blah, blah, blah. I was like, wait … you actually read our blog?
Career-move wise, I suppose I had committed suicide. Weiner might – might – have given me a blurb for THE CINDERELLA PACT (which later became the Lifetime movie, LYING TO BE PERFECT), if I’d just shut up. But after that post, no freaking way. It all worked out, anyway, and that’s the message I’d like to impart to Weiner (and any others foolish authors tempted to chase critics around the internet): turn off the Wi-Fi, dude.
Because here’s the good news: it get worse.
As time goes by, as you age and the gears of your brain clog with the sediment of living, young whippersnappers will pass you by riding on tailwinds of refreshed prose, radical thought and annoying youthful energy.
There are tons of Glennon Doyles out there, rising writers who maybe didn’t go to Princeton or work their ass off like you did to get where they are, Jennifer. But they worked enough, wrote a goddamn book (or two), and, like the prolific Nora Roberts, are innately talented. Hah! Nothing you can do about that.
So, relax, and let it go. Just write. Or not. Chill out in Truro and take in the waves. Drive your daughters to school; they won’t be home much longer. Join the League of Women Voters. (Your home state of Pennsylvania’s going to be key in this once-in-a-lifetime-we-hope election.) Teach yourself to knit. Or ski. Count your big green piles of cash.
That’s the thing about the merry-go-round of success. When you’re riding it up and down, at first it seems like fun. Then you get dizzy. Only when you step off and are firmly footed on solid ground do you see what it really is:
Your pen pal,