How Opal Mehta Got Packaged, Got Snagged and Got Pulled from the Shelves
Virginia [9:27 A.M.]: Apparently. Remember back this winter when I sent you the article about that book and the packager----and especially the half million dollar advance? I was truly pissed then, but now I'm feeling a little redeemed. Just desserts you know.
DONNA [9:29 A.M.]: Yeah, I definitely remember the article. They-- meaning the big conglomerates that currently control publishing-- must think readers are stupid. How can you write the same sentences and not expect anybody to notice? And no, I don't believe you can write all of those passages alike, "by accident".
Virginia [9:34 A.M.]: Yeah, they think readers are stupid---or not that observant. Besides, we live in a time in our culture where pulling the wool over the eyes of the average American is a full time endeavor. And now Viswanathan and James Frey have gotten snagged and "ooops...sorry" is supposed to be enough. But look at reality TV. Look at primetime TV. Look at the movies and theater. Look at the news. What is really original, new and what is rehashed, regurgitated and thrown back at us like it's new and we're supposed to love it? And sadly too many people do.
DONNA [9:39 A.M.]: As someone who is both a reader and a writer I resent it. There is so much pressure to be homogenized--that works for milk, not for what I read. If one book, is successful, let's make them all like that. I'd bet you a whole dollar--which you know is the big money-- that the title of her book was a committee decision. Gotta make it sound "sexy". And who knows, there might even be an engaging story under all of the "borrowed" parts, but she didn't get to tell it...in her own voice.
Virginia [9:41 A.M.]: Apparently original thought is being programmed, PACKAGED and produced and fed to us. And as long as we buy and eat it will continue.
DONNA [9:44 A.M.]: It makes me grateful to the readers who continue to support us and our books. You know that sometimes it feels like we're trying to dig a hole while we're standing in quicksand-- it keeps filling up, with us in it. But when we hear from readers who tell us our characters really meant something to them I get the energy to go back to the computer and keep writing.
Virginia [9:46 A.M.]: Which I guess is what we need to do now, since we don't have a PACKAGER who'll take our ideas and write the book for us!
DONNA [9:47 A.M.]: Yuck. I'd never want that. Guess I'm just an old fashioned girl.
Virginia [9:47 A.M.]: Old? Yes. Old fashioned maybe!
DONNA [9:47 A.M.]: No need to get technical!
Virginia [9:48 A.M.]: But you know I'm techno girl...
DONNA [9:48 A.M.]: Girl? If we're being precise. . .
Virginia [9:49 A.M.]: I knew that was coming so I came up with 'technoldlady' instead!
DONNA [9:50 A.M.]: How about Babe? That's timeless.
Virginia [9:50 A.M.]: I'll take it. Technobabe works for me. But back to Opal before I go---at least they're being forced to pull all the books, instead of printing more Million Pieces-
DONNA [9:54 A.M.]: Perhaps a small bit of justice. And I really am grateful to our loyal readers. I mean, I'm just still buzzing about the Tabahani Book Circle event in Long Beach last weekend. It was an honor for them to choose us to celebrate their 10th anniversary and to represent their theme of sisterhood and friendship. That will keep me fueled for quite some time. Good thing--we've got a book to write!
Virginia [9:55 A.M.]: Yep. Work awaits.