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Victoria Patterson is the author of the novel This Vacant Paradise, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Drift, her collection of interlinked short stories, was a finalist for the California Book Award and the 2009 Story Prize. The San Francisco Chronicle selected Drift as one of the best books of 2009. Her work has appeared in various publications and journals, including the Los Angeles Times, Alaska Quarterly Review, and the Southern Review. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and as a Visiting Assistant Professor at UC Riverside.

24 responses to “On Selling Out”

  1. Victoria, welcome aboard! I was wondering if you’d like to submit this piece to Chicken Soup for the Chicken Soup Writer’s Soul. I think your heartwarming rendition would really touch a lot of people who have experienced what you have.

  2. Yikes. How about: Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, Inspirational Stories about Staying Away from the I Shouldn’t Have Done That In The First Place Man

  3. Welcome to the club. We’ve all sold our souls, I think. But when you know you did it and can write a story like this, and then learn to not do it again, then you’re fine. If you get trapped into Chicken Souping everything, you’re screwed.

    • Anon says:

      Selling one’s soul may be foolish but more foolish still is failing to profit from renting it out on occasion (ensuring, of course, that you first get an adequate security deposit against potential damages… and perhaps have it Scotchgarded, just in case).

  4. Thanks for the comments. David, I think there are so many ways to sell out–and often it’s a fine line. I have to pay attention to my internal yuck-alarm. Fortunately, it’s pretty loud. But when I think about the Chicken Soup for the Soul deal, I don’t necessarily regret it. It wasn’t worth the hassle–but I learned a great deal from it.

  5. Definitely important to Scotchgard the soul. But I think Scotchgard has been taken off the market because it’s a carcinogen. Hmm…

    • Anon says:

      Fret not and Chicken Soup away! According to 3M, their revamped Scotchgard line has been perfluoro-octanyl-free since 2001 (although I saw nothing on their site’s FAQ about the stain protection offered to souls using their current product so caveat emptor).

  6. Thomas Wood says:

    I do some of my best (and worst) writing over scotch and a few cigarettes. You must have caught her on an off night.

  7. Ducky says:

    Putting food on the table is never selling out. Welcome.

  8. Thanks for the comments. Thomas, a few cigarettes and a glass of scotch are lovely conduits to writing. And Ducky, you’re right: food on the table is a very good thing.

  9. Oh, and it’s good to know that Scotchgard is perfluoro-octanyl-free. Pass over that can.

  10. Huh. I could swear I had commented on this. But it totally came down to: be proud of your sale. You’re a writer for a best-selling series.

    That’s pretty awesome.

    Nice post. Welcome to the site.

  11. Marni Grossman says:

    It’s tough, isn’t it? Being true to your voice and still making editors happy?

    Because I am an agreeable sort- to a fault, almost- I often have trouble sticking up for my own point of view. But I agree with everyone else. You should absolutely be proud of the sale.

  12. I’m proud that I’ve kept writing, despite the constant setbacks and rejections and lack of rewards. To be honest, I’m not that proud of having a story in the Chicken Soup series.

  13. Mary says:

    You know, I always see these calls for submissions about terribly specific topics. Stuff like, “Write about a time you were wronged by the medical industry,” or “Send us your stories of crying in public.” When I see these, I always feel like, “Man, i have no good excuse for being unpublished when there are all these opportunities out there …” And yet, why would I want to write on the topics they’re looking for? Where is the anthology of writers bemoaning the ridiculous stuff editors ask for?

    On an ever-so-slightly related note, I once did a freelance piece that involved attending a tattoo show and taking some pictures of people’s tattoos. As I mingled with the crowd looking for people to talk with, I had the good fortune to chat with one of the featured tattoo artists, a 40-something woman with a lot of ink and a great reputation for her work. I included her in the story thinking it was a great find. The editor, however, chastised me for it. She said I shouldn’t talk to people “outside our demographic.” Apparently the demographic was 20-something private university hipsters with ironic tattoos. I didn’t work for that publication for very long …

  14. […] one that prompted me to post today, though, is “On Selling Out” by Victoria Patterson. She shares her feelings about having once contributed to one of the […]

  15. Paul Clayton says:

    Victoria, be happy you made the cut. I entered that one too but didn’t make it. Not enough salt, they said.


  16. […] And if she isn’t going to re-activate her Facebook account to sell her book, she sure as hell isn’t going to get a boob job.  (Although she’s not averse to cleaning toilets, or making her soul more Chicken Soupy). […]

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