Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'm Always Leery Of Anyone Called A "Debutante"

In my rural, working class youth, I somehow got the impression that "debutantes" were rich girls (rather than women) who got dressed up in not very attractive gowns and went to a bizarre elaborate dance where they were assigned a rich male dancing partner. Said dance was some kind of rite of passage, like an over-the-top prom before proms became over the top. I do not know what magazines I was reading or television shows I was watching, but my information must have come from those sources. I thought of debutantes as being very passive people, that a debutante ball was something that was somehow done to them or for them.

I totally understand now that I had and have no idea how the rich live. I'm just offering up this information to explain why the word "debutante" doesn't have a lot of positive connotations for me.

Now we come to Diary of a Literary Debutante, a column at Salon that is going to follow the experiences of a writer, known as Yuko Mishima for the time being, as her first book gets closer to publication. "With each installment, I’ll share some lesson — often hard or humiliatingly learned — about my weaving, stumbling path toward (I hope) eventual publication."  I'm in. I'll be reading.

Here's the disturbing debutante thing, though. Mishima spent many years working on her manuscript and "...finally finished it. I sent the manuscript to agents. I chose an agent, and she submitted it...the six agents I sent the manuscript to were the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh people besides me who had ever read the book in its entirety..." As some of those making comments pointed out--Six agents? She submitted to only six agents and was able to choose an agent because more than one of that small pool was interested? This is not the average writer's experience. It is the experience of a narrow group of writers, just as debutante balls are the experience of a narrow group of girls

The book may not be an average book, which would explain how easily that portion of the publication process went for Mishima. As I said, I'm in. I'll follow the column. Depending on how the column goes, I'll give the book a shot. But I have to say, right now this part of the author's story, does, indeed, make it sound like a debutante's tale.

Editing Note: The title of this post was changed from the embarrassing I'm Always Leering Of Anyone Called A "Debutante" to I'm Always Leery Of Anyone Called A "Debutante". I am quite humiliated for having made such a big copy error, though not for the first time. And, I fear, not for the last.

2 comments:

tanita davis said...

It is the experience of a narrow group of writers, just as debutante balls are the experience of a narrow group of girls

Uh, yeah. WOW. We should all be so set apart and draped in literary pearls. Good grief.

gail said...

It will be interesting to see what the rest of her experience with publishing this book is like. Is it going to be similar to what a large percentage of writer/readers go through? Or are we talking something else?

I wonder who came up with "literary debutante" for the title of the column. Because I don't think the author uses that analogy or expression in her text. I don't think I'm the only reader who will find it somewhat loaded.