from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #17: Vicariously Living the Dream

with 4 comments

Yesterday, I got a text around noon from my writer-friend, Krystn, while trying to sleep off a Budweiser*/random cocktail/tequila-hangover. The key words of the text were “book deal,” “penguin,” and “six figures.” I didn’t recover enough to get dressed and head to the coffee shop to write for another six hours, which was when I was finally able to hear the good news.

A community is an integral part of being a writer, I learned one day while drinking with writers. We were drinking Korean draft beer and makgeolli** and they were basically teaching me the ins and outs of the business. (The French “existentialist” conversation of the previous entry made its regrettable appearance here.)

Both Krystn and James stressed the importance of building and maintaining networks within the writing community and attending writing workshops. I’ve done neither and I think, aside from geographic restrictions, part of it is my aversion for critiques, an aversion developed during art school, when the class would sit around a piece and bullshit until the instructor’s bullshit-meter reached full. Of course, writing being a more practical art, I’m sure there is far more merit in feedback. It’s just that “I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.”***

In our conversations, Krystn often shared that her biggest worry was that her first book is a collection of short stories. Short story collections are the literary equivalent of rubies. While valuable and appreciated by people who know fine gemstones, it lacks the general market appeal of diamonds. You can’t generate the kind of income necessary to fund well-armed, murderous rebel armies of child soldiers with rubies.

So it was fantastic to hear that Krystn had become a hot commodity. The major publishing houses were fighting over her, driving her stock up into the six-figure range, and not a lower-end six-figure number at all. You can expect her collection on bookshelves in the spring, mostly because her publishers believe she is a serious contender for literary prizes and that’s when you release books that are contenders.

I guess she can write. I’ve never read any of her writing but she must be good to generate such interest. (I’ll probably get a chance to read some next weekend and am looking forward to it.) She’s a writer. Because she is a legitimate writer, her story has been one to envy: finding a competent agent she gets along with, didn’t have to query, and is enthusiastic about her writing, and now this.

Writing is a business, and if you can write, apparently a very lucrative one. As an as-yet aspiring writer with no agent and no interest from the industry, I can be content with the success of a friend, a part of my community.

* I’m not a Bud man but it’s the cheapest foreign label beer bottled in Korea. It’s usually the second cheapest beer on the menu. That’s how I choose to present myself: Second cheapest. A tiny shred of dignity is all I need.

** Promoters of the traditional Korean rice liquor have decided on “Drunken Rice” as its nickname in a contest not too long ago. My suggestion? MacCauley, in honor of the child star of the Na Hollo Jibe series.

*** Quote from The Hangover.

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4 Responses

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  1. That’s way cool for her. Tell her I said congratulations when you see her.

    조엘

    October 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    • No problem. Although I don’t know if she’ll appreciate the fact that I shared her success on this blog.

      holdenbeck

      October 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      • just lie and say you told me while we were drinking

        조엘

        October 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      • No need to lie. I could take her in a fist fight. Ha.

        holdenbeck

        October 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm


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