Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jealous Much? Why yes...yes I am!

            I am not proud to say this, but I am jealous.  I’m jealous of a young woman who has been publicly vilified for being crude, obnoxious, and the very face of self-indulgent youth gone bad.  Can you guess who I might be referring to?  No?  Well, how about Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.  Yes, you heard me right, Snooki.  And I am quite embarrassed to say so because I hold similar opinions as to her public behavior. 
I despise the persona she portrays herself to be on the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.”  I feel she puts a bad face on America, especially American youth.  She is kind of a laughingstock, constantly ridiculed for the way she dresses—or perhaps the way she doesn’t dress—the way she speaks, the way she socializes, even the way she tans and wears her hair.  I somewhat agree on most of those points and often wonder why she would represent herself in such a way.  Maybe because that’s the way she really is although she recently tried to convince us otherwise during her Today Show interview, explaining she only behaves that way during the summer months while visiting the Jersey shore.  I don’t really understand it, but I do know she’s paid a crapload of cash for maintaining that persona, real or otherwise.  I certainly can’t fault her (much) for that.  Okay, I can, but that’s not why I’m jealous.
What I find difficult to swallow is her latest endeavor, that of a novelist.  Yes, Snooki has written a novel called “The Shore Thing.”  Catchy right?  Now this is no memoir, mind you.  No, it is an actual novel with fictional characters loosely—okay, not so loosely, entirely—based on her and Jaywow (forgive me if I got that name wrong—I don’t actually watch her show) and—wait for it—it tells the story of their escapades while visiting the Jersey shore.  How fascinating! How original!  And while Snooki admits to having a co-writer, the well-accomplished Valerie Frankel, she boasts that she wrote it herself—in three months, no less—while she was also working on the show. 
Now I don’t find it hard to believe that Snooki wrote a novel herself, nor that she wrote it in three months.  What I find hard to swallow is that there is even an audience for such a thing.  Did she come up with this idea on her own or did one of her producers suggest it thinking it would raise more awareness of her public persona therefore making the show even more popular?  I’m embarrassed for America, that anyone would debase themselves by watching such inane and insipid drivel.  I think we like to watch people like the cast on Jersey Shore make fools of themselves so we can feel better about ourselves, but I digress. 
That’s not my problem with this whole thing. And I don’t actually have a problem with Ms. Polizzi either.  My problem is this whole “dumbing down” of America BS.  My problem is that this book was so easily published when so many talented, hard-working, well-educated writers with well thought out, highly polished stories go unpublished with the excuse being that the market for books is changing, that very few people actually buy real books any longer.  I guess the publisher’s motivation is strictly financial, foreseeing a real niche for such a novel.  (Yikes, I cringe at the thought.) 
I’ve been wondering about the agent who read Snooki’s manuscript, what she was thinking as she turned the pages.  (Click here for an excerpt of Snooki’s book.)  I doubt Snooki even had to go through the seemingly unending hell of querying for an agent.  I similarly doubt she had to shop around for a publisher either.  I think it was most likely a done deal from the word go.  How else could it have possibly happened because I don’t really think that an unknown could have accomplished what Ms. Polizzi has by getting her fictionalized account of her Jersey shore misadventures published.  I think, in this case, it’s all about who you are and who you know.
I don’t fault the publisher either, really.  I know that the business has changed and they are unsure of what the industry will bring in the coming months and years.  They are running scared because so many of the brick and mortar booksellers like Borders are collapsing and not paying the publishers for the books they’ve bought.  They cringe at the thought of newly released books selling for a mere $10 or $15 as they are on Amazon.  
I understand that the publishers are just out to make a buck like everyone else in America.  But as a writer who has slaved over her manuscript, hoping and praying to land a qualified agent who will love my story and characters as much as I do and find a publisher who feels the same, I am frustrated by the ease at which some celebrities churn out trash, making the promotional circuit on such highly regarded programs as the Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, who, in turn, frequently ridicule such celebrities for their raunchy behavior. 
But what’s a writer to do?  I’ll just keep plugging away, keep praying and hoping to land that agent, keep blogging away hoping to raise awareness of my novel, of me.  I don’t hate Snooki for her accomplishment or begrudge her for her success.  Hate is too strong a word.  But I am jealous.  I am hella jealous.  Because that is the one and only significant dream that I hold for myself, to get published, to have someone recognize some talent in me, to love my characters and say, “Wow, I really liked that book!” 

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