Sunday, March 19, 2006

Twelve Things Writers Won't Ever Admit To

There are a lot of unspoken aspects of a writer's life---things we don't admit to because it will make us look bad.

Since I gave up scruples for Lent (I also gave up Catholicism), I'll share the things that no one else will share. Here's the list in no particular order:

1. Answering fan mail is a drag. Sure, when we first got started we loved to hear from fans. But after the thousandth letter of someone proclaiming their love, we begin to cut and paste our responses (Thanks so much for writing!) Yes, I know this sounds sucky and ungrateful. But at least I still answer all of my fan mail---lots of big shots have a website moderator do it for them.

2. We hate being edited. Writers will say that they love a good editor, but none of us actually believes the editor knows better. We listen, because we have to, but we think we got it right the first time and that we don't require any rewrites or tweaking. That's why, when we become bestsellers, we refuse to be edited.

3. We think our last book is better than the one that won that award. Even if we weren't on the final ballot. Even if we weren't nominated. Even if we write in an entirely different genre.

4. We don't read every book we blurb. Some writers don't even write the blurbs--they let the author who asked for the blurb write the blurb.

5. We think #1 NYT Bestsellers are crap, and that our own books aren't on the NYT List because we refused to sell out, because our publishing house didn't do enough, or because the readers are stupid. We also resent Oprah, but in public talk about how much she does for the publishing world.

6. We say snide things behind each other's backs. There's gossip, rumor mongering, and pettiness, and we badmouth people that we call our friends. Especially if they are award winners or #1 NYT bestsellers.

7. We envy each other. If an author gets a movie deal, a huge advance, a big tour, a magazine spread, we're incredibly jealous because we feel we deserved it, not them. Then we hide our feelings behind well wishes, and say snide things behind their backs.

8. We all have a martyr complex, believing that writing is an heroic, impossible profession, and that our tremendous intestinal fortitude is the reason we're professionals. That, and our natural talent. Oh yeah, we're also all egomaniacs.

9. We all have a sense of entitlement. We expect to be treated better than the average Joe, to be catered to, to be fawned over. The higher we climb, the more prima donna we become.

10. We're all constantly afraid that the world will realize we're frauds, and it will all be taken away from us. Our careers are precarious, fragile things, and we know this all too well, but we hide that fear behind bluster and bravado and say things like, "That book flopped because the author didn't try hard enough" when we all know that but for the grace of God go I.

11. We blame our publishers, our editors, and our agents, when our careers aren't going well, but take all of the credit when they are going well.

12. We secretly think that 99% of all newbie writers aren't good enough to make it. But we also think that 99% of all professional writers aren't good enough either.

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All of these things don't apply to all writers, but some of these apply to all writers. Even if they vehemently deny it.

And I want to go on the record and say that ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THIS APPLIES TO ME. I'm just relating what I've seen and heard. I'm a kind-hearted, giving writer who loves everybody and everything about this profession.

As far as you know.

Anyone else want to admit to some unpleasantness inherent in this business? Feel free to post anonymously...