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The Age-Old Cynicism Surrounding the Dream of Book Writing

31 May 2015

From Jane Friedman:

I’ve known about this joke for nearly as long as I’ve worked in book publishing. It goes like this: “More than 80% of people say they have a book inside them. And that’s exactly where it should stay.”

While speaking and tweeting at the International Digital Publishing Forum at BEA this week, I had the opportunity to hear Jane McGonigal speak. . . . She shared this statistic:

More than 90% of young people in the United States say they want to write a book someday.

I tweeted the stat, and while there were some people who considered that inspiring, the more common response looked like this:

That’d be inspiring if more wanted to learn basic grammar and improve their reading skills.

But do they want to READ one?

Jane McGonigal saw the responses later and said:

oh my gosh your followers are very cynical about young people wanting to write books! Wow! (Reading their replies)

Unfortunately, every generation is quite the same in this regard, which is nicely expressed in the following 1900s quotation: “The world is coming to an end. Children no longer obey their parents and every man wants to write a book.”

. . . .

What I observe in the reaction:

  1. There’s an overabundance of books and it’s just as upsetting now as it was in the 1400s. With digital publishing tools, even if you can’t get a publisher, the manuscript doesn’t have to collect dust under the bed. You can publish it. And as Clay Shirky has said, the question today isn’t “Why publish this?” It’s “Why not?”
  2. We think young people are not as smart, hard working, or [fill in the blank]. Every generation thinks the one after it is somehow deficient. Today’s young people are especially under this burden, as they’re constantly referred to or identified by the fact they grew up with the Internet, or digital devices, which tend to take the blame for the many evils in the world. We’re all fretting about whether or not we’re slowing down enough to read a book—even though we’re likely reading more than ever, just in different formats and mediums.

We are potentially entering a new era—what has been called the Era of Universal Authorship. And one of the tweeted responses did in fact acknowledge this subtext: “That [statistic] is a bit depressing. Not just the competition. That takes away from the notion of writer as identity.”

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Self-Publishing

65 Comments to “The Age-Old Cynicism Surrounding the Dream of Book Writing”

  1. There’s a big gap between wanting to write a book and actually writing a book. Same with through-hiking the Appalacian trail or climbing Everest.

  2. Suburbanbanshee

    You know what it’s called when there’s an overabundance of books, and it seems like everyone is competing to put out their best?

    A literary golden age.

    Writers learn by reading other great books, and then by writing. If writing seems like an impossible dream for almost everyone, there’s little chance of having great books emerge. The more books are being written, the more chance that some will be great.

    But now we see that these folks really don’t want to be at the Mermaid Tavern, hanging out with the great writers of the English language and having songs flow as plentifully as the beer. They don’t want to be doing a moonviewing with a whole bunch of excellent poets, watching Lady Shikibu catfight genteelly with Lady Murasaki, and knowing that every poem will be better than the one before.

    No, they want to be one of a stingy few, secure in their chosenness.

    Well, fine. They can do their thing, and I’ll be drinking and singing with the fun crowd. Crowd being the operative word.

  3. Isn’t the notion for indie identity more akin to “publisher” in as much as “writer”? How many of these people polled raise their hands when asked if they wish to be a publisher?

    The entire concept of writer is swinging back to what it was nearly two centuries ago when people like Twain and Dickens had more control of their careers. This isn’t a bad thing, and it’s rarely discussed in these so-called statistics.

  4. I’m sorry, but that’s a mean-spirited joke to quote.

    Who does it hurt in this digital age if a high school sophomore writes a bad book, puts it up on Amazon, and a few of his buddies buy a copy. NO ONE. And it would show the young man that it is hard.

    Who has the right to say, a priori, that this person or that person ‘should keep their book inside.’? NO ONE.

    Even before, it didn’t hurt – those books, if not good, might not have made it past the gatekeepers – but again, who cares if those young people TRY? NO ONE. I say, let them. And they’re doing it in droves.

    Way to encourage future writers – NOT! Because some of those who want to write a book will actually follow through. Unless some spoilsport manages to thoroughly discourage them before they even start.

    • I think I just told this story on another thread recently but it’s relevant here.

      When I was in college in the late 70s, I wrote my first novel, a sword and sorcery tale of two sisters. Got about 100 pages into it. (It’s pretty bad, typical first novel quality.) I showed it to one of my professors, Muriel Becker, who suggested I show it to her fellow professor, Christopher Stasheff (author of The Warlock in Spite of Himself, etc.). He read it and had me meet with him to hear his opinion. He was kind and generous and gave me story advice that I was too naive to follow, since I was in the 20something stage of knowing more than anyone else in the world.

      I thought about that last week when a young man from my synagogue called me to ask me to take a look at his manuscript for a science fiction novel. Time to pay it forward and hope that he’s smarter than I was when I was his age.

      I have no intention of discouraging him. He has the raw talent. He can tell a story. The rest comes with practice and experience.

      • Oh, man, I used to love Stasheff’s work. Now I want to revisit it to see how it’s aged. But that’s exactly how I would have expected Stasheff to react, advising and being awesome.

        • By all accounts, he was a great professor. We had an excellent Communications department during his tenure.

          • Suburbanbanshee

            He’s still a really great guy, and he’s been putting out ebooks of all the books for which he got reverted rights. Sometimes he’s putting little things back in. I think his work has aged rather well, or I’m seeing depths in it that I was too facile a reader to see before. 🙂

  5. Today’s young people are especially under this burden, as they’re constantly referred to or identified by the fact they grew up with …

    … the Internet.
    … video games.
    … television.

    Looking at those technologies and trying to pick which one makes people smarter instead of dumber, I’d pick the Internet.

  6. “More than 80% of people say they have a book inside them. And that’s exactly where it should stay.”

    This joke is incredibly snobby. 80% of people have a story they want to share with other people–and the reaction (at least in the joke) is to assume their story has no value to anyone? Do these people really believe that only a tiny fraction of the population’s stories are worth hearing?

    • And that’s exactly where it WILL stay, in most cases. Very few people will have the actual will to sit down and begin laying out said book.

      As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has the willpower to sit down in front of a blank screen and throw enough words on it to create a coherent story has the right to put it out there and should never be ridiculed for their effort.

      • Yes. The astonishing thing about self-publishing isn’t how many new ebooks show up on Amazon every year, but how few, given how many people say they want to write a book.

    • I don’t care how many people publish their memoirs or novels on the Internet. If it gives them joy, then go for it.

      I care when people tell full-time, successful artists to “get a job” when they have never actually written a book, directed a play, produced a movie, or painted a painting, AND done so well by some measure, be it monetary or otherwise.

      That’s the deeper problem at issue here. There is no tsunami of crap. There IS a tsunami of naive thinking that everyone can turn a hobby or a passion into a job; therefore, people who work creative jobs are just full-time hobbyist hacks and shouldn’t be entitled to fair compensation or consideration.

      That’s the sentiment that underlies a lot of the “I should write a book” comments I hear (from about 80% of the population), and it pisses me off. ETA: I also think it’s easy to tell when someone actually plans on following through as opposed to just bluster, and I have nothing but respect for those who try.

  7. I think the people that are most concerned about “too many books” are the people who write the books “they want to write” as opposed to the people who write books they think readers will like.

    Some of the navel gazing writers who write about their complex relationship with a distant mother, or their insecurity in being accepted by professors in college, or how their European travels enriched their lives, I think assume that if there are less Zombie books, people will be forced to read their offerings. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

    I suppose there are probably people in genre who complain about the competition, but whenever I look up a complaining writer’s books, they always seem to be stories I can’t imagine anyone being interested in.

    • I should be offended by this, as I am a person who writes those books I want to write (and read) — but I’m not.

      This was the topic of #futurechat this Friday, and I ended up debating much too long with one of the entitled set.

      But honestly, I don’t think she knew she was entitled. I mean she really was concerned about the future of literature if just anybody could write a book, because (every single literary snob cliche in existence).

      But after a bit she was reacting with confusion and surprise — because in that particular discussion, nobody reacts with offense. So a number of us engaged with her and she started hearing things she had never heard before.

      (Disadvantage of the nice, protected little rarefied world of the ivory tower: you’re not likely to hear much of what goes on in the real world.)

      There are plenty of people, like me, who don’t live in that rarefied world, but who recognize that writing for art’s sake is taking the path less traveled.

      To me, that’s what indie publishing is all about. It’s about the ability to take the path less traveled.

      Listen, the competition is less when everybody gets to go their own way.

      • When people say there are too many books, I always ask, “Too many for what? Too many for whom? What is the right number?”

      • Nothing wrong with writing the book “you want to write.” That’s what I did, it took three years and I have know idea if there is a market for it.

        But, if the issue is “are there any readers left?” The answer is: yes! And they mostly like to read romance, with some liking detective, and a few erotic, and… if you are willing to write within the specifics of that genre, there are plenty of readers.

        When people usually talk about “literature” they’re talking about literary fiction and yes, it seems like the people who write literary fiction are the ones that complain the most about too many writers and not enough readers.

        Which is so odd, because if literary fiction is really about the art, then you really shouldn’t care if you can find readers. The point is expressing yourself. And because publishing is easier, it becomes easier to express yourself. But, the ease of publishing has proven that it isn’t really about art, it isn’t about expressing yourself, it’s about people who want outside validation that they are “artists.” So they need a crowd of people standing around them telling them they are great. But… they don’t want to write the stuff that the crowd can get excited about.

        Now, I happen to believe that Zombie books can be art too, but that’s another issue.

        I hear complaints about selling books from genre writers too, but they usually seem to be focused on solutions rather than hand wringing. Like “shape shifting billionaires seem to be selling, so I guess I’m going to have to write a shape shifting billionaire story next.”

        Literary fiction is based on the lie that it isn’t genre, and that there aren’t conventions that are more likely to make it popular and sell. It is a genre, and it is a mostly failed genre, because it fights any efforts to popularize it. Thus we have eyebrows raised at “chick lit” which really means, literary fiction that people like. But it has to be demeaned because it appears to appeal to women (who are really the largest reading base anyway) and the fact that its popular is suspect.

        I think people should write what they want to write, and it’s great if they have artistic aspirations. But don’t sit around complaining too many other people have artistic aspirations too, and they need to focus on learning how to applaud.

        And if your goal is readers, write what readers want to read.

        • Yes, literary fiction is a genre, and that genre is basicaly writing for the sake of the art and not the audience.

          If you leave out the total poseurs (the people who seldom actually write anything — and certainly never finish anything) then I believe there is a silent majority of literary writers who know that.

          The problem is the poseurs and a minority of the real writers, who thought it was a club.

          Which it can be, (and still is!) but they thought the membership requirements were publication. Ironically, that was never the requirement. When I published my first story, it was in Highlights for Children, and I have earned more from that story than most of my professors had earned in their entire publishing careers… but that was not a legit publication in their eyes.

          So seriously, self-publishing has no effect on that little club and it’s membership requirements. Nobody got into it before by merely publishing. Why should that be a problem now?

          The problem is that these people never actually had to see the unwashed masses before.

          But more than that, they now are forced to realize that their rejectees don’t give a hoot – and never did.

          • Yes, literary fiction is a genre, and that genre is basicaly writing for the sake of the art and not the audience.

            Doesn’t that break the homogeneity of the genre list?

            Genres seem to be based on subject matter. We can ask what a book is about, and then stick it in a genre. (I agree their are cross genres.)

            But then we take the motivation of an author and make that a genre? That opens the door to making genres of lots of other author motivations.

        • Which is so odd, because if literary fiction is really about the art, then you really shouldn’t care if you can find readers. The point is expressing yourself.

          Close, but I think the point is really about achieving excellence in form and craft, which can include but is not limited to expressing yourself.

          Now, I happen to believe that Zombie books can be art too, but that’s another issue.

          Oh, for sure. Look at World War Z.

          Thus we have eyebrows raised at “chick lit” which really means, literary fiction that people like.

          I’m not sure where this idea came from, but I wouldn’t have thought this. I mean, personally, I’m not a fan of the term itself anyway, but I’ve always thought it meant novels mainly written by and about women that were kind of akin to a sitcom — quick, funny, light, banter-y, etc. Similar in tone and execution to stuff by Nick Hornby and such. And not really aspiring to much more.

          I think people should write what they want to write, and it’s great if they have artistic aspirations. But don’t sit around complaining too many other people have artistic aspirations too, and they need to focus on learning how to applaud.

          Hell, I wish more people had artistic aspirations. I don’t think the complaint is that too many other people have them and people need to applaud; I think the complaint is that too few people have them, and too many authors and readers are satisfied by books that are merely good enough and content to be so, and which have no higher aspiration and thus achieve nothing great.

          • Yes, I agree with most of this.

            I write genre novels. I’m told they are page turners. I have fans who buy all of my books and want to be told about the next one. But my sales are moderate. I do not write for those who look for chick lit, romance, erotica, zombies, werewolves, fantasy, sci fi, or hardcore violent crime novels. Neither do I write cozies. I also would never read any of those. And that pretty well leaves me out of all the selling genres.

            But I write because Ilove writing and I care about the “artistic quality” (not sure what that is precisely) of the books enough to take pains. That has to be enough. The fact is that my sales were much better when I had publishers. The self-publishing area is not good to authors who don’t fit the norm.

          • I’ve always felt like anything creative is “art.” Is there a difference between a fifth grader’s chalk drawings and a Monet? Certainly. But the lack of subjective quality doesn’t disqualify something as “art,” does it?

            • Yeah, this gets into the whole quality versus objective etc. thing that comes up every once in a while.

              I’ll tell you my belief: not everything creative is art. Art is what happens when a picture or novel or whatever achieves excellence in its form.

              Up above, Meryl said

              I have no intention of discouraging him. He has the raw talent. He can tell a story. The rest comes with practice and experience.

              I’d think with practice and experience, fifth graders with chalk can grow up to create something every bit as rich, powerful, and — for lack of a better word — artful as anything Monet ever produced.

              Anyone can run, but not all runners are Usain Bolt. Anyone can write, but not all writers write well — though I think with practice and experience most can learn how to write competently, for sure. But then, anyone can train and practice and improve in form and speed, but they’re still not going to beat Usain Bolt. They may just have to settle for being able to finish a race.

              Mileage, as always, varies. (For Usain Bolt it just varies a lot faster.) 😉

              • I’ll tell you my belief: not everything creative is art. Art is what happens when a picture or novel or whatever achieves excellence in its form.

                So who draws the line, and where is it drawn? I visit the Art Institute in Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and they have more than a few things hanging on their walls that I don’t even find creative, but that someone obviously sees artistic value in (moreso at the MCA). I’m willing to accept that they are “art” and that maybe it’s just that I don’t get them. Just like in sports (in the example given, running), you don’t have to be Usain Bolt or be able to compete with him to label yourself a “runner,” you don’t have to create Art-Institute-Level art to be creating “art,” in my view. As you say, YMMV! 🙂

              • I wasn’t asked to tell him if I thought he was a great writer. I was asked to comment about his novel’s plot and structure.

                Sure, great writers have some innate talent that not everyone has. Yes, no matter how hard I practice golfing I can’t ever be as good as the pros.

                There are people who can’t string together two sentences. They’re the ones who should be gently discouraged because they simply can’t write. But if you know how to tell a story and you’re willing to learn your craft, you can become a decent writer.

                You are conflating very different skill levels. There are a lot of happy marathon runners out there who can finish in four hours and are very happy with that. Then there are the world-class runners who win the marathons–and they’re none of them Usain Bolt.

                Hey, either he has the ability to learn how to write, or he doesn’t. Either way, it’s up to him. I’m not going to burst his balloon.

                • Hey, for what it’s worth, I figured you’d be for that young writer what Stasheff was to you, and you’d comment on his story and offer the best feedback you could. I wasn’t saying you should discourage him. And I wouldn’t think you should!

                  But if you know how to tell a story and you’re willing to learn your craft, you can become a decent writer.

                  Totally agree there, too. My only addition/elaboration is that there are a lot of authors who are like “Schmuality is subjective and nothing’s good or bad except thinking makes it so, so what’s the point of craft?”

                  And Scott — we all draw the line and where. Art is a continued discussion that inspires commentary and dialogue. It prompts response that continues to build on its own effect.

                  I think, anyway.

    • There are NEVER too many zombie books! 😆

      • Agreed. And if you’re looking for zombie books that are art, pick up Joshua Gaylord/Alden Bell’s The Reapers Are the Angels and Exit Nation, its sequel. I plug those whenever I can (and I have no connection to the author). It’s like Flannery O’Connor read Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Road and decided to do her own version—with zombies.

        • Oh thanks for this. Read the first couple of pages, and wow looks good.

          Plus, blurb from Michael Gruber (The Book of Air & Shadows) ftw!

          • It’s really beautiful work. I only discovered it thanks to a LitReactor (I think) list of best zombie books that had it at number one. And I agree.

            The heartbreaking part is that I was only able to locate the sequel in paperback, shipped from the UK. (It, too, is great and deserves to be more widely available.)

            And, of course, it was evil literature-killing Amazon that allowed me to find it at all.

  8. This is a silly slapfight about nothing. First, there doesn’t seem to be any source for this “statistic.” Second, who cares, except it gives Friedman a chance to lecture us about being judgmental about the younger generation, man.

    Why do we feel the need to place value judgments on how young people read or write? Dare I ask why we believe someone must become a serious reader before it’s okay for them to begin creating/writing? How much reading should be required before you get the green light to write? Doesn’t writing make you a better reader?

    Gee, I don’t know, Jane. Maybe because we know a few things about writing and reading? Maybe because it would be a good thing that young people hear that they’re not special snowflakes? That if you want to write something people will read, you should know a little about grammar and word definitions and storytelling?

    But she wants to set up her straw men and women and call us cynical for daring to suggest that if you want to write, you might want to read something as well, which is the same advice every writer has given since Homer (and I don’t mean Simpson).

    This is what a culture is supposed to do: Set standards, argue about them, critique and say “this is good” and “this is not good.”

    If you’re writing for yourself and your friends (and Fanfiction.Net), then OK, have a blast. But if you want more, you need to know that you’ll have to work.

    • True, dat.

    • I think we should encourage anyone that wants to write. As for “special snowflakes” I see those as people who think they deserve praise/success for everything.

      If someone wants to be a writer, to make a serious go at a part-time or full-time job, I still think the first step is encouragement. Once they finish a novel, then it’s time to start pointing out that they have a lot to learn. I don’t think we should discourage them before they even try.

  9. > Today’s young people are especially under this burden, as they’re constantly referred to or identified by the fact they grew up with …

    … cars vs. horses
    … telephone vs. letters
    … handwriting vs. memorization

    Honestly, some people have always *needed* to put younger / different / other people down. I’m sad they’re so insecure.

  10. So I’m ‘living the dream’? Sounds like fun …

  11. We have had the same articles about today’s young people for the last fifty years. The first evidence is on the Rosetta Stone. It’s all horse pucky.

  12. The parental generation always thinks the kids are the worst thing since bubonic plague. Our parents thought we who came of age in the 70s were shiftless, drug-loving peaceniks who’d never hold a job or amount to anything. So has it been probably since the first cave person realized he or she was a parent.

    That said, also, who among us, the published and the future-published, didn’t have the freedom to practice? I know one writer–one–who published the first novel she ever wrote. I cringe when I think of my many, many practice pieces. Why should young writers not have the same freedom to get dirty, to get it wrong, to overwrite, to under-write, to make mistakes, that I did?

    Shame on the shortsightedness Ms. Friedman’s post displays. We all have a learning curve. I’m still on mine.

    • Why should young writers not have the same freedom to get dirty, to get it wrong, to overwrite, to under-write, to make mistakes, that I did?

      They have all that freedom and more. Exercising it shows they don’t gove a hoot about the scolds.

  13. Many people want to have written a book, but not to have to write one to get there.

  14. I think Friedman cited anecdotal evidence of a point of view that we here at the PV have talked about and rightly look at with derision. She seems to acknowledge that this point of view (too many books) has been around forever and is possibly stale. She equates it with the age old next generation versus previous generation meme.

    I didn’t take the article as snobbish or shortsighted.

  15. Many young people also want to be rock stars (maybe hip hop these days). Some acheive this, at least for a while. It’s funny that nobody in the commercial music world sneers at them for having that dream (unless they go Indie, I suppose).

  16. Flannery O’Connor was once asked whether she worried writing programs stifle too many young writers. She famously responded they stifle too few of them.

    I think the real problem is that schools inspire too few young writers. The books bore or the teachers fail to bring them to life.

    So far as the Clay Shirky thing, I think “Why publish this?” is a great question. I think the best answer there is “Because I want to,” or “Because I need to.” As a reader, I love that there’s so much more possibility for me to find a new great book to read. I don’t find many great books, maybe, but I’ve never found many great books. The difference is there are now way more fish in the night with the potential to be delicious.

    • The books I was assigned as part of high school English were very boring, so I just started to read more on my own. I guess if you want to write well you have seek out good books. I really don’t see the American public school/university system turning out great writers, but I could be wrong.

      With regard to writing programs, I don’t think they’re all bad. It reminds me of when I had a musician friend tell me about learning guitar. He said lessons are good for when you’re just starting, but if you want to really get better you have to just practice on your own.

      • The books I was assigned as part of high school English were very boring,

        That was why I mentioned teachers. I think a good one can work with anything. My first semester teaching fiction, I closed with The Great Gatsby, if only because it’s one of the shorter ones generally universally thought of as a Great American Noveltm.

        It’s so well written, but can also be so boring. Which is so weird, because it’s all hook ups and parties for much of the novel before it all gets bad.

        Me, I told them to think of it as a proto-Jersey Shore. The Terrible Misadventures of Jay “Six-Pack” Gatz and D-Woww, as reported by Little Nicky. It seemed to help.

        • It’s not something I like to say, but most students are not going to care about great books, or even any books. Everyone has different interests, and some people are readers while others aren’t.

          I thought Gatsby was really boring on my first reading, but I liked it better the second time around I read it. It’s similar to The Sun Also Rises. You have to have the patience for the book and willingness to pay attention to it or you’ll put it down thinking you just read a book about nothing.

          • Suburbanbanshee

            An awful lot of books assigned in school are written for adult readers and even over-the-hill readers. You do want to stretch young people’s perspectives, yes, but often it’s a case of wanting them to care about things that they literally can’t care about yet.

            That said, a lot of high schoolers really love Gatsby. Not me, not ever; but it’s good for those who like it.

          • I really did appreciate some of the choices my teachers made, although I hated the ones I hated and loved the ones I love regardless. I vastly prefer Gatsby over Catcher in the Rye and Tess of the D’Urbervilles over The Red Badge of Courage any day of the week and twice on Sunday. We also read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams, some Sankskrit pieces, shorts from “The Pillow Book,” and Beowulf (not at the same time), among many others, so between 10th and 12th grade we ended up sampling pieces from over 30 countries. It was pretty cool.

            The reason I remember some pieces better than others were because either a) the teacher was really into the piece, or b) there was some really powerful metaphor or narrative structure that stood out in its execution (Gatsby is an almost perfect example of 5-part tragedy, which is usually better demonstrated in modern times in playwriting).

            • Just to throw a couple more names in here for high school reading, my freshman (soon to be sophomore) son was assigned a handful of short stories, then they did 1984, ROMEO AND JULIET, and finally, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston. I had never heard of the last book, but I read it in order to help him find quotes for his final essay, and I enjoyed it a bunch. Took some doing for me to get into it however.

          • I thought Gatsby was really boring on my first reading, but I liked it better the second time around I read it.

            I thought it was boring when I read it in high school. Many years later I read it again, and found I was right.

      • The books I was assigned as part of high school English were very boring, so I just started to read more on my own.

        Classic Comics was a godsend.

  17. “That [statistic] is a bit depressing. Not just the competition. That takes away from the notion of writer as identity.”

    You see a LOT of this every October and November as NaNo rolls around. “But we don’t have National Do Some Rocket Science Month! I AM A PROFESSIONAL! Get your filthy self expression off my lawn!”

    Rocket science isn’t something every human has a basic claim to. Creativity is. Either accept that, or go learn some rocket science.

    Funny, I don’t see the great sopranos of the world banding together to insist that people should stop singing in the shower, because it demeans them if just anyone can sing, or professional painters complaining about the horde of marker-wielding preschoolers trivializing what they do.

    Because that would be ridiculous, because we can tell the difference between a preschooler’s art and a professional’s (usually). If you’re really that worried that you aren’t identifiable as a professional, then maybe you need to stop worrying about what other people are doing long enough to up your game, already.

    It smacks of desperate insecurity, frankly, and it saddens me that people want to suppress the expression of others just so they can feel like special snowflakes.

    • It smacks of desperate insecurity . .

      with a little economic or financial (don’t know which is the right word) threat thrown in the mix.

    • Agree. People have all kinds of dreams. Climb Everest, make a million, travel around the world, learn another language, win the Olympics, build a treehouse, retore a ’56 Chevy, or become a rocket scientist.

      Most folks in those other areas of endeavor encourage people. For some odd reason, a subset of authors disparages folks who aspire to write.

      • It’s one thing to aspire to write a novel. It is another thing to place rump in chair to actually DO it. That’s the simplest part of the process.

        It takes a tremendous amount of work to get to the point where we push that publish button.

        My frustration with the nay-sayers is a simple one:

        They don’t appear to understand that writing and DIY publishing is A LOT MORE WORK THAN READING A BOOK.

        The sheer number of hours it takes to write and publish is more effort than what most people do in a 9 to 5 job.

        • They don’t appear to understand that writing and DIY publishing is A LOT MORE WORK THAN READING A BOOK.

          Of course they don’t. Nor do they understand all that goes into climbing Everest, making a million, traveling around the world, learning another language, winning the Olympics, building a treehouse, retoring a ’56 Chevy, or becoming a rocket scientist.

          But the folks who have done those things still encourage people. They aren’t frustrated that someone else has a dream.

          The sheer number of hours it takes to write and publish is more effort than what most people do in a 9 to 5 job.

          I suppose that depends on how many 9 to 5 days it is compared to.

    • But we don’t have National Do Some Rocket Science Month!

      If we did, we’d probably all be living on the Moon by now.

  18. Saying 90% of young people wanting to write books will lead to some literary disaster is like saying the economy is going to tank because everyone wants to have a million bucks in the bank and money will be virtually worthless when we are all Warren Buffett.

    For the record I don’t want to be Warren Buffet.

    I was thinking Bruce Wayne.

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