PROFESSIONAL TIPS– Lemony Snicket
by Leigh Lundin
You’re a fan of crime writing and you haven’t heard of Lemony Snicket?
|Leigh at Borders (2005)|
Lemony Snicket might be accused of the crime of writing, which would undoubtedly please Lemony no end. To be candid, I’ve read only one LS novel, The Bad Beginning from the tridecalogy A Series of Unfortunate Events. I read it in one sitting in a Borders Bookstore in Evansville, Indiana while I was waiting for… Well, never mind, I read all 13 chapters. In fact, all 13 books have 13 chapters. Lemony has a thing about the number 13.
When I began reading, I pictured Lemony Snicket as a jaundiced sick, sick, sick, sick adult of the female flavor, but as it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. That is, I can’t imagine guys as ‘lemony’; limey or grapefruity, orangey maybe, perhaps pithy, but not lemony. Nevertheless, Lemony Snicket is the handle of Daniel Handler, not according to Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography.
To be fair, his first novel, The Basic Eight, was rejected by 37 publishers for its subject matter and tone, a dark view of a teenage girl’s life. This dude has serious issues, which is right up our alley. Snicket’s mission is to successfully warp 60 million children in 41 different languages. Impressive!
Now that I haven’t explained who Lemony Snicket isn’t, I offer the following professional encouragement personally eMailed me (and a few thousand friends) by Lemony in conjunction with NaNoWriMo, which Deborah described a few weeks ago. Read it and weep.
Struggling with your novel? Paralyzed by the fear that it’s nowhere near good enough? Feeling caught in a trap of your own devising? You should probably give up.
Paralyzed by the fear, well… Normally, we wouldn’t direct you to another web site, but to avoid the spectre of copyright concerns, I found the letter on the NaNoWriMo web site. I urge you to read the missive in its entirety because it’s fun and sly and acidic and beautiful at once:
Clearly, the future is moving us proudly and zippily away from the written word, so writing a novel is actually interfering with the natural progress of modern society. It is old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy, a relic of a time when people took artistic expression seriously and found solace in a good story told well. We are in the process of disentangling ourselves from that kind of peace of mind, so it is rude for you to hinder the world by insisting on adhering to the beloved paradigms of the past. It is like sitting in a gondola, listening to the water carry you across the water, while everyone else is zooming over you in jetpacks, belching smoke into the sky. Stop it, is what the jet-packers would say to you. Stop it this instant, you in that beautiful craft of intricately-carved wood that is giving you such a pleasant journey.
We’re glad you’re still here, but consider a minute to visit the NaNoWriMo page with Lemony Snicket’s letter in full and enjoy the gondola trip, even if you have to strap on your jet pack later today. It’s worth the journey:
Writing a novel is a tiny candle in a dark, swirling world. It brings light and warmth and hope to the lucky few who, against insufferable odds and despite a juggernaut of irritations, find themselves in the right place to hold it. Blow it out, so our eyes will not be drawn to its power. Extinguish it so we can get some sleep. I plan to quit writing novels myself, sometime in the next hundred years.