In life, there are small irritations and pet peeves that are more amusing than anything else. Case in point: why do people in other industries (where they are either successful or perceive themselves to be successful) assume they should suddenly become writers and can whip out a bestselling book with nary a thought?
There is a certain person (who shall remain unnamed) on another blog site who seems like a nice person. This person spouts a lot of positive-thinking stuff and works in Hollywood. This person defines himself as a mover and a shaker -- which, by all accounts, he appears to be in many circles. He knows Hollywood and all that jazz (well, as much as you can for his age) and now he puts out a call to everyone on his f-list to hook him up with an publisher and agent because he's decided it might be "nice" to write a book and spread his wisdom to as many readers as possible. Fair enough -- and he does have uplifting things to say -- but he makes it seem like writing books and getting into the publishing industry is just as easy as snapping one's fingers. That's it's a matter of simply having someone on his friends' list hook him up and -- BINGO! -- he can just call up a publisher, pitch his book and it'll magically appear on the shelves and become an international bestseller.
It would be nice for him if that happened and I would buy his book to support his dreams, but what irks me are people who decide as a flight of fancy that it would be nice to write a book as an afterthought or to enhance their careers like it's a cute little game of some sort. It's not. And no, finding a publisher or agent isn't as easy as putting out a message that essentially tells people he's so busy doing Hollywood-like tasks that he needs someone to help get him started and hook him up with an agent or publisher. For those of us who have been writing for decades and who have endured rejection upon rejection and have paid in sweat, blood and time only to finally see some of our words in print, watching someone waltz into the room with a flippant, almost nonchalant attitude about writing and publishing is a complete an utter insult to the rest of us who have had to WORK for the few successes -- however small -- we have.
WE have to agonize over query letters and proposals. WE have to do our own dirty work (i.e. - researching markets, contacting agents, steeling ourselves against countless 'thanks, but no thanks' letters). WE battle writer's block and unwieldy musings in the middle of the night. WE fight cold and flu during deadlines, yet push through and get the work done anyway. WE put in the footwork and don't expect others to go out and take care of things because we're too busy schmoozing with illusionary movers/shakers in HollyWeirdTown. Just because you work in Hollywood, it doesn't mean you can write worth crap. And even if you get published, it should be because you put in the time to get there and it wasn't just handed to you because of a five-minute schmoozy phone call. You should have to prove your worth by crafting a professional book proposal and a query letter. You should have to demonstrate your writing abilities to the publisher and the agent. You should have to go through all the steps THE REST OF US have to go through. And you should feel the sting of rejection at least once. Why? So you RESPECT the process. So you RESPECT the others who put work into writing. Hollywood is NOT the same as book publishing. We "do" lunch...but if we're in the middle of a deadline you're going to have to wait till our work is finished first. I've missed many an engagement, party or social gathering because a writing project took priority. Writing is WORK, not a sideline activity undertaken just for kicks.
Need a publisher? FIND one yourself. Want an agent? FIND one yourself. Write the proposals, sample chapters and query letters YOURSELF. There are NO shortcuts...I don't care who the hell YOU are in Hollywood. This is another ball game, kiddo. Most of us working writers aren't impressed by who you slept with last night or who you lunched with today.
This person does have good things to say and he has decent basic skills as a writer (save for occasional grammar and spelling niggles -- and none of us writes perfectly all the time anyway). However, it's not his writing that bothers me. I believe he could write a wonderful book about positive thinking that would motivate others. It's his attitude toward writing/publishing a book that bothers me. You want to get a book published? DO the footwork. DO the research. Get YOUR hands dirty. Write your own query and proposal for a publisher or agent -- after you've spent hours researching the market for your potential book AND after you've spent hours researching publishers and agents. Book contracts aren't handed to people on silver platters just because they had the wisp of an idea today that they "just might like to write one of them thar books." *rolls eyes*
Writers rarely garner enough respect. And even if you are a famous author, you still don't get the proper respect for the work you do. Writing is not valued like work at a construction site is valued; working with your mind and your fingers on a keyboard...well hell, ANYBODY CAN DO THAT, RIGHT? But hard, intense physical labor...now that's REAL work! *bull* I'd venture that MENTAL work is much more trying than physical work overall. Don't believe me? Try it sometime. Try sitting in a room, weeks or months on end, writing a novel...making something out of nothing but with your mind. Try selling your IDEAS and getting another person to PAY for your ideas and then to publish them on the off-chance other people might want to read what you have to say. Who the hell are YOU, after all? Why should WE listen to or read your ideas? That's not work...that's PLAY (or so some would have you believe). Creatives (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) are the Rodney Dangerfields of the world -- they never get enough respect. It all looks SO easy, doesn't it? Hell, anyone can whip out a book (or so it's believed). Do most people really think about the time, effort and anguish it takes to get a book on the shelves? No. Why, it's SO SIMPLE that anybody and his mother can do it. *bull*
So yes...Mr. Unnamed Mover/Shaker may have a great book idea and I do hope he finds a publisher and an agent (if he so desires). But please, don't be flippant about the publishing industry or the writers who work -- really work -- in it daily. It's a job to us, not a hobby. Not an afterthought or icing on the cake of another career aspiration. Some of us would write with or without a publishing industry. The reason WHY we want to earn a living with our words is so we can KEEP WRITING instead of working at a crap job in cubicle hell. A bad day writing is better than the best day working in corporate America. If I won the lottery, I'd never care if I earned another cent by writing. I write to support my family because it's my chosen career...and writing is one of the lowest-paid professions a person can select (unless you're one of the top two percent who earns a decent living). As one famous person said (I'll need to remember who), you'd have better luck betting on horse racing. And yet, I choose to be a writer because I love it. It's the only thing I can do halfway decent. Writing isn't just because you WANT to some of the time...it's because you HAVE to all of the time. You live/eat/breathe/sleep writing. You can do nothing else. If you want to be respected as a writer, respect the profession and ACT like a professional -- WORK for it. Nobody is going to give you a damn thing.
If you plan to write, please don't do it on a whim. Have respect for the profession and the people in it. Writing is not a dalliance -- for some of us, it's a serious undertaking that reverberates deep within the soul.