Tuesday, May 22, 2007

 

Susan's Inside Writing: Goodbye, Miss Snark

When I was twelve, my mom bought me copies of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight and Dragonquest at a flea market. They were stripped copies but this was twenty years ago; what did we know?

I may not have known the first thing about the book business back then -- hey, I was only twelve -- but I knew good characters, and it didn't take long before I'd fallen in love with F'lar and Lessa. They were as real to me as the friend who lived three houses down, who I'd get together with almost every day that same summer.

I wanted to be part of F'lar and Lessa's lives; they seemed so real, so easy to envision. I knew they were fiction, but oh, how I wished I could be fiction, too, and have a place in the Weyr with them. I wanted to live a dangerous, exciting life. I wanted to be among the group of heroes who made a difference.

Eventually, I grew up. Found other things to read. You know how it goes. But every now and then, I'd return to those Pern books, particularly when my life was in tumult. I remember staying up all night after I was married, looking for solace. The Tour Manager's ex-roommate had blamed me for his wife's insecurities, and he hadn't exactly been kind about it.

I read, and I read, looking for the way to cope with what felt like a neutron bomb that had gone off inside my life. I was looking for wisdom, for guidance, for escapism. I found it all.

A year and a half ago, or so, a friend pointed me to Miss Snark. I needed to read her, she said.

At first glance, I was put off. But then, I laughed. And finally, I was hooked.

It wasn't just the things I was learning from her. I mean, heck. I'd been around the publishing block once already. I'd had an agent. I knew that glitter and neon pink paper weren't such great ideas. I knew about twelve-point font and SASEs and to follow the damn directions.

Of course, there was plenty to learn. After all, I've only been around the block once. Maybe I didn't get the whole way around, since my wonderful agent didn't make me a sale.

What hooked me wasn't the content; it was the writing. Snark didn't just dish out her own advice, she took it and whoever created her did so pretty completely. She was her own person, a work of fiction who was as well-rounded and clearly drawn as any of the best fictional characters out there. She had a voice. She had inside jokes. She had a love for shoes and a disdain for cats. In some ways, I knew Miss Snark better than I knew my own best friends.

She wasn't real. I knew that even as I exchanged e-mails with her and tried not to get excited that someone who could afford Jimmy Choos would actually deign to speak to me. There was room in Snark's world for all of us, so long as we weren't total nitwits -- or could laugh at ourselves if we were. We took that risk by e-mailing her questions for the blog or submissions for her writing contests. We knew that, but we risked it anyway.

Part of the reason was that she was trustworthy. The one time when I had a situation on my hands that I truly didn't know how best to handle, she came to my rescue. Didn't even call for the cluegun, either, but then, I know I'm not a nitwit. Every now and then.

That's the part of Snark I'll miss the most. Yes, I'll miss the jokes and the occasional times when I'd scream with laughter or put my water glass down before clicking on her name in my feedburner. For me, the power of Miss Snark was knowing that I always had someone I could turn to when I needed it. The only expectation either of us could have was a thank you; there were no obligations of sending gifts or making sure you followed the proper etiquette. The only etiquette was to have a clue, and the longer you hung around, the bigger your clues got.

She's gone now, as pretty much the whole world knows. I have no idea what I'll do if I land a contract with an independent publisher and need a referral to an agent, just for the purpose of the contract. And my feed reader will probably never again threaten to explode with the 100-plus Crapometer entries.

In a way, it's like closing the cover on my bedraggled copy of The White Dragon, knowing it was a great ride and I'm a better person for having spent time here. The site remains in case I have to dig through the archives yet again. Just as the books sit on the same shelf with my stuffed bison and Animal the muppet.

I am one of those people who is always looking forward, toward the next adventure and the next person who'll touch my life. I pretend I don't look back, but I do. In those quiet times, when I can't sleep or am driving somewhere and the music lulls me into letting my guard down. I'll look back on it all with a bittersweet laugh.

Just as it was eventually time to leave my beloved Dragonriders on the shelf, now it's time to move through the publishing world without my tart-tongued guide. Always grateful for the interesting things I've found thus far, but always ready to check out -- if cautiously -- the next thing that comes along. Certainly, because of Miss Snark, I'll be the savvier for it.

To the men and/or women who created her, thanks. I hope I never find out who you really are. If I do, I'm afraid I might look at you the same way I look at Casey Kasem now that I know he voiced Shaggy on Scooby Doo.

Some things, I'm better off not knowing.

Let Miss Snark remain her perfectly imperfect fictional self.

I'm sure George Clooney will sleep better for it.

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Comments:
Yep, I'm going to miss Ms. Snark too.
 
Well said! You touched on everything I'm feeling....
 
LOL, you keep mentioning that. I was curious why; I'd rather find out who she is so I can query her.

But I suspect you're right. *sigh*

And I LOVED Pern! Love Pern, actually. I especially loved the music ones.
 
I too, loved Pern and Miss Snark. Maybe she'll surprise us with a post now and then. She might miss it after a few months.

I'll keep her on my feed reader, just in case.
 
Casey Kasem voiced Shaggy??
OMG!! I'm having an A-HA! moment. I cannot believe I never realized that very obvious fact.
This reminds me of the day when I realized that Baa Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle and the ABC song ALL had the same melody! (you probably don't want to know that I was 33 when that great truth was revealed;)

btw - I tagged you for that one word meme. Come on over to Wylie's Words for the detes.

*still shaking head in disbelief*
 
GREAT post, Susan! but this:
Casey Kasem ... voiced Shaggy on Scooby Doo.
??!!!?? Fer REAL? No way.
 
Yeah, guys, it's for real. Casey Kasem IS Shaggy. (did Shaggy have a last name, btw?)

Wylie, I was about that age when I discovered the same thing about those songs. Funny how you never think about it until your kids inform you of them!
 
Good morning. I found your site by going thru Michele's and visiting "25 Year Plan."
 
I started reading Snark when she first started blogging. I even got judged by the crap-o-meter once. I liked how she was snarky without being cruel to those who were really in need.

I'm not sure why everyone felt the need to "uncover" her. She gave great advice. I'm glad the blog is staying up for its archives.

Also, I can't believe Wylie didn't know Casey Kasam voiced Shaggy.
 
It's sad to say goodbye. Miss Snark was dishy and fun. Who wouldn't miss that?
 
Lovely post, S.
- karen
 
I'm so gonna miss Miss Snark, she was hilarious.
 
I was so upset when I read she was finishing! But I suppose it's best for the survival of keyboards throughout the world ...

Your post was a fitting tribute!
 
Thanks, Lindsey! That was sweet of you!
 
Not only did Casey Kasem voice Shaggy (who does have a last name), but he received a lifetime achievement award recently and quipped that despite everything he's done in the music industry he's better know for
(in Shaggy's voice) "Zoiks"
 
And people wonder why I keep him around even though he does things like leave my bike helmet in his trunk...
 
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