Two things you need to know if you want to be writer.
First, from Lewis Black: don’t.
Second, from Harlan Ellison: if you must, get paid.
Thanks for posting the links to those video clips.
The Lewis Black clips was very funny. And, God knows, Harlan Ellison can rant with the best of them. It’s not difficult to imagine why he remained pissed off at Gene Roddenberry until the day the latter died (for mangling the script to “The City on the Edge of Forever” from the original Star Trek series). Nor is it a stretch to see him nearly get into a brawl in a pool hall with Sinatra and his entourage back in the Sixties (or was it the Seventies?). I have a certain affection for guys with “chips on their shoulders,” having been something of one myself (a guy, that is–the “chip” remains, albeit in reduced form). And yes, absolutely, pay the writer!
I’m tempted to look at these, but not sure if I really want to. As an aspiring novelist struggling to finish his first book, I find the last thing I need is yet another person who’s “been there, done that” telling me not to bother (at least wait until I’ve finished the first draft and polished it up a bit before trying to destroy my spirit with such a disheartening message). Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t think of any other field where it seems there’s such a concerted effort to dash people’s hopes and get them to give up before they even start. (When was the last time, for example, you saw an article entitled, “So, you want to be a brain surgeon, eh? You poor bloody fool!”) Is it because writing’s that field of human endeavour which attracts the greatest number of deluded idiots who think anyone can do it (if only they have the time), and that it’s the easiest way to make a quick million or two?
writing is an entirely different thing than publishing, i think. writing is a great thing – satisfying & difficult.
but the publishing industry has gotten more & more unfair to writers over time. an author’s guilt statistic had something like 1% of their authors who actually make a living from their books/writing alone.
mostly i think authors (like myself) want to save new writers the heartbreak we experienced.
Really agree with Helen. I had a mini novel published back in the mid nineties in a now defunct specialized magazine. Even back then, the editors and managers were brutal. For all of the passion one puts into writing, they really don’t care. With that said, writing can be really, personally rewarding.
When I was in college, we were routinely told not to plan on being physicists. there were too many of us, there were too few jobs, and (according to some of our profs) we were just too outright stupid to make it. I don’t know if that’s the case now–at least, it isn’t what I say to my students, but I think there *are* other professions in which the people who have made it discourage those who want to try–for a combination of reasons, some because the elders are compassionate, some because they’re freaking assholes.
Having said all that, I’ll only add that becoming a theoretical astrophysicist was a lot easier and much better on my ego than attempting to become a published writer. Writing a novel was great and it was cool to finish something. Would have been nice for it to see the light of day, too, but I won’t hold my breath.
So much earned kudos to Helen for doing something that is, imho, way harder than god damn rocket science. And that’s the truth.
Yes, kudos for Helen! It is now extraordinary to have a book published, much less have it emerge as award winning literature and a demographically specific “best seller”. She even has “two” books in that category.
My mini novel was well received. But after it was published no one was breaking down my door for more or even a lecture. (The theme was not so pleasant.) So the response to Helen and Betty’s story just magnifies how remarkable that accomplishment is.
Was thinking about you as I read the New Yorker this recent trip, the cover of the Feb 25th edition is called “Shelf Life” by Adrian Tomine. Interesting bloggery about the cover (and books in general) here: http://printisdeadblog.com/200.....ker-cover/
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