Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Hate All Writers Everywhere

By Aaron Michael Ritchey 

I was at the Colorado Teen Literature Conference this year, and they had wonderful guests like they
always do. David Levithan was there; he wrote Two Boys Kissing, co-authored Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and co-authored Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Heavy hitter. He got picked up by a big publishing house in his twenties, didn’t even query. A friend knew a friend, who passed on his writing.

I hate him.
A.S. King was also there, and she wrote Reality Boy, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and like a million other books. Her story was more common. And heartbreaking. She wrote, queried, and was rejected for fifteen years. Then got a big break and became a hit. Another heavy hitter. 
I hate her.

And then Todd Mitchell was there, critically acclaimed (hate him), and a bunch of other local writers with big agents, big houses, movie contracts, adoration, and raw, burning talent (hate them one and all).
And there was Sheri Duff and me. I love Sheri Duff. She loves good books, writing, and me. All good things to love.  Sheri went home, feeling overwhelmed by all the big name authors, because yeah, it was intimidating.  I talked with her for a long time in the middle of the street, with cars zooming around us, because what she was feeling was important and I could empathize.

When I was first starting out, I hated anyone who had more success than me.
Because I felt like a small goldfish among sharks. I felt desolate and empty, hopeless. Despairing.  However, things have changed.

More and more, it doesn’t matter. The writing game isn’t a fair game. It’s evil in some ways. Why did David Levithan get the big contract when other authors didn’t? Why did it take A.S. King so long to get in the door?  How come?
I don’t have any answers. I don’t know why I’m unagented. People seem to like my books. My new book got a glowing review from Kirkus. I mean glowing. If you read it, you gots to wear sunglasses.  But still, no lovin’ for Aaron Michael Ritchey from the traditional publishing world.

I’m going to quote from an interview I had with Catherine Ryan Hyde (love her), because this sums up really what I’m feeling nowadays and I wanted to share it with the PPW blog:
 I’m like a guy who couldn’t find a prom date. I went around and asked all these agents and editors to go to the prom with me, and they all said no. I went to prom anyway. I might be out on the dance floor by myself, but I’m publishing books I adore, and I’m dancing. But I’m not alone. I’m dancing with editors from small presses, I’m dancing with other writers, and I’m dancing with readers. Make no mistake. I’m dancing.”

I don’t know why some people strike it rich and others don’t. I do know I wrote for twenty years and I churned out numerous books, some of which were bad and shouldn’t be published. Other books were good, and I’m proud of them, but no one wanted to publish them. I don’t know why that is.

Doesn’t matter. I’m going to play this game with everything I’ve got. I am going to continue to query because an agent can get me to a bigger house, which can get me help with marketing. Not a lot, but any help is better than none. I’m going to continue to write books and get them out into the world.

In short, I’m going to continue to dance. What other people do, what fortunes they gain, or laurels they win, good for them. I am going to celebrate the victories of other writers.

Let me repeat that. I am going to celebrate the victories of other writers. Because a win for one of us is a win for all.

And when I meet the big names, when I see their lines of fans stretch around the block, I’m going to smile and be glad for them.

Maybe someday that will be me. Maybe not. Right now, I’m dancing, and when I’m pounding on my keyboard, listening to 30 Seconds To Mars, lost in my story, well, the music just can’t get any sweeter. That Jared Leto, rock star and Academy Award winning actor.

Him, I can hate.

About the Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey’s first novel, The Never Prayer, was published in March of 2012 to a fanfare of sparkling reviews including an almost win in the RMFW Gold contest. Since then he’s been paid to write steampunk, cyberpunk, and sci-fi western short stories, and his story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” has been nominated for a Hugo award. His next novel, Long Live the Suicide King, is currently giving hope to the masses. Kirkus Reveiws calls it a “a compelling tale of teenage depression handled with humor and sensitivity.” He lives in Colorado with two rockstar daughters and a moviestar wife.

For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey. .