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Opinion: Typing Without a Clue

Timothy Egan wrote a great guest column in the New York Times yesterday where he bemoans the trend of publishing memoirs from people taking advantage of their 15 minutes of fame (like Joe the Plumber’s new memoir, good grief).

A quote:

Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.

Writing is hard, even for the best wordsmiths. Ernest Hemingway said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper.” And Winston Churchill called the act of writing a book “a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.”

The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.

Go read the rest, it’s good.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chain Reader December 7, 2008, 7:55 pm

    What an excellent article–thanks for the link! I loved the quote from Churchill saying that writing a book was “a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.” Sometimes I feel that way about my humble little blog posts!
    I’ll pass on Joe’s memoir.

  • CollegeTimes December 8, 2008, 2:15 am

    Hey what’s up, we are looking for bloggers to join our academic writing community. All our writers can make cash from ads. Check it out if you are interested, thanks…


  • alirambles December 8, 2008, 7:12 pm

    Nice article, thanks! The thing that’s really unfair is not that publishers print this junk, but that it’s what the average American will buy, if they go to the bookstore at all.

  • Kim December 8, 2008, 8:30 pm

    Chain Reader: No problem! And I agree with you on both counts.

    alirambles: Yeah, that’s a side of the story that doesn’t get mentioned. I wonder how many copies Joe’s memoir will sell… I hope not too many.

  • Kim L December 10, 2008, 10:16 pm

    Here’s what I want to say to Joe the Plumber:

    “Shut. Up. No one. Cares.”

    But apparently, people do care. What do I have to do, criticize a presidential candidate’s tax plan to get a book published these days?

  • Kim December 11, 2008, 8:37 am

    Kim L: Ha ha, for sure… I’m astounded by how idiotic that is.

  • Louise December 11, 2008, 11:23 am

    Don’t get me started on crap lit (of which I read a good deal myself though)….but excellent article which I agree with 100%.