Thursday, December 14, 2006

For Writers & Readers: Whoa, Depressing!

If you're a writer, this is not a happy post. But, hey, I believe in knowing, even if it hurts.

Edited to Add: And THIS guy, having the problem outlined in the above, has his own non-profit response. I doubt his publisher will be pleased.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mir,

I'd find that depressing if I was into marketing.

Writing is like sex: if you're just doin' it for the $, 1) you prolly aren't enjoying it, and 2) you prolly aren't that good at it. I prefer authors who write for the love. The best (like Wallace) don't publish regularly, or to some schedule. Some are never "published." Some of my favorite stuff is on the forums for free, and you get to interact w/ the authors. Like yours, and you.

So actually, I kind of find that essay uplifting. Let the industry crank out formula from the same few names for the masses and let the art happen elsewhere.

Also, I think that e-book toy's going to change the face of "publishing." So write when the spirit says write. Screw the man.

Josh said...

It reminds me of a quote that I can't remember the source of to attribute it to properly. But the essence of it is this:

"Creative writing teachers and workshop leaders (and other such writerly advice givers) do the writing craft a disservice by encouraging too many people to continue writing when in fact they do not have enough talent/drive/whatever to actually succeed."

This is very Joshed version of the original, and I've probably twisted it beyond recognition. I'm half-tempted to do an internet crawl to dig up the real thing, but you get the point. If an article is realistic, as this one is, even if depressing, then let it do its job by weeding out those people who aren't willing to go through the full push, all the ups and downs, that are involved. Otherwise, I think the article can be enlightening and inspiring.

(Was it Harlan Ellison? That seems like something he'd say.)

Anonymous said...

God, what a horrid quote. A dubious service to readers, weeding out according to your personal tastes and perceived potential. And an absolute disservice to those discouraged by "teachers."

Scott Tureau failed highschool English. Good thing he wasn't discouraged.

Makes me think, choose your mentors and teachors wisely.

Josh said...

Heh. I wasn't saying I entirely agreed with the idea, wherever it comes from, just that the article made me think of it. I certainly enjoy encouraging other people's writing myself...that's what I try to do with my blog and resource links, etc. In light of discouraging statements, let me then say what I do believe (and this is an actual, verifiable quote by Harlan Ellison):

"You cannot discourage a real writer . . . Break a real writer's hands, and s/he will tap out a story with feet or nose."

So for me, it was a comment less of "we should discourage people who don't have enough talent and clog the industry," and more "those who don't let themselves get discouraged by this kind of article or quote will be the ones who eventually end up getting published in the first place." It's all about perseverance and a love of the craft.

About me: said...

Doesn't bother me in the least. The article left out online sales factor.

And besides, God's bigger than all that.

If it's meant to be that a writer will sell books, then it will happen, regardless of the insanity of the publishing/bookselling world, and the endless negative and discouraging articles writers have to put up with.

Mirtika said...

I think the brutality of those critique workshops (I've taken a few, though I wasn't an MFA major) helps a lot in giving a foretaste of reviews and rejections and such. The publishing world IS tough, and I understand what you're saying, Josh.

But I"m glad Suzan and Chris are way more chipper and hopeful than me. But then, I'm the Melancholic.


Anonymous said...

Hey josh, didn't mean to come off critical of you. I know the quote's not yours and that you weren't even advocating it.

Not sure I agree that criticism can't and hasn't discouraged potentially successful authors. Just because those that have "made it" weren't, doesn't prove the converse. I know positive feedback has been a factor in keeping me moving forward. So I'm thinking discouragment could have the opposite effect. Plus I think beginners are most succeptable to negative feedback. Once we find our voice and confidence we handle criticism better. I mean, you don't tell grade 4 pianists they aren't good. You worst, you tell them practise.

Plus, what's wrong with less than professional quality writers, writing? Should I give up music because I don't have it in me to be a pro? Tennis? It's a worthy exercise for anyone who's interested and willing. No one should be discouraged.

Whew. End of rant. Sorry.

Mirtika said...

Someone had an extra cuppa coffee today? :)