I started watching the Mike & Molly show when it premiered. It was funny. And Melissa McCarthy is hilarious as Molly. When she quit her job as a teacher to “find herself” and figure out what she wanted to do, I felt like it was a familiar storyline – mine. I have often felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even as a writer. It’s taken me over ten years to figure out what my true genre is…but I digress.
This past season, she started writing a book. She met JC Smalls (played by the hilarious Susan Sarandon) and found a twisted mentor. Then Molly got accepted into a “prestigious” writing program.
Okay. This is a sitcom. I’ll buy it.
But in the season premier when she came home from the writing program – 8 weeks later – with a partially written book that “everyone hated” accepted by a publisher who gave her a sizeable advance… well, I had to hit pause.
I looked at my husband. I could see him cringe because he knew the diatribe was about to begin.
“For the record,” I said, “that would NEVER EVER happen in real life!”
And I left it at that. Even though I had so much more to say. He nodded with only the support a husband of a writer could offer.
So I’ll say it here. Aren’t you lucky?
It really bothers me they called the book “porn” (I’m assuming this is a romance novel in the same vein as 50 Shades of Gray though the show never really says what genre it is). Yet another stigma the romance genre has to overcome to be “serious” fiction. ROMANCE IS SERIOUS FICTION. It IS a real book. IT IS A REAL STORY that authors put their blood, sweat, tears, agony, frustration, PASSION into. Calling it “porn” is insulting to the genre AND the authors who make a living writing it.
As a writer who has been struggling with her craft for years, trying to make a living, trying to make it work, I’m offended by the premise that an unpublished writer who has a PARTIAL manuscript made a sale and got a HUGE advance. How in the hell did she manage that WHILE on a writer’s retreat? Where is her learning curve? That is so not reality, people.
Okay, I get that the show would be über boring if she were still learning her craft, sending submissions and getting rejections, but I would have hoped they would show it in a more realistic light. Why not show Molly sending her first submission? Getting her first rejection?
The reality is it takes weeks, sometimes months, to hear back from a submission. And while you’re waiting, you’re supposed to be working on your next book.
The reality is if you’re lucky, you’ll get published after you’ve written your third or fourth novel when you’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t (and WHY) writing fiction. You may even land an agent if you decide to go that route.
The reality is publishers don’t offer HUGE advances – especially to unpublished writers who have yet to finish a manuscript. Read the submission guidelines to ANY agent or publisher and you’ll see they simply do not consider novels that are unfinished. And why should they? It’s not finished. Who’s to say it will ever be finished?
The reality is if you DO get an advance, it’s because your agent has worked hard to get you one, to get you the deal and it’s because you deserve it. It’s because you’ve learned your craft, you’ve risen above the slush pile and you’ve found your voice as a writer and know your genre and your audience.
All this show really did was make it seem like “anyone can write a book.” Writing a book is HARD. It takes years of hard work, dedication, perseverance, drive and determination and the ability to push yourself to learn to do something you can’t get “on the job” training for. I’m so aggravated with this presumption that writing is easy. And it bugs me the show casts authors in the light that anyone can land a deal and start rolling in the dough.
Writers work their ass off to create their careers and maintain it. Let’s see a little of THAT, Mike & Molly.