Books Writing

If it’s so bad why do we love it

Michael Blowhard at 2Blowhards provides a detailed discussion about why you wouldn’t want to write a book. Among the reasons given, such as only a few hundred people make a living at it, he says that writing a book just isn’t fun:

Many people imagine that they’d “fullfill themselves” (whatever that means) if they wrote a book; or that they’d get a deep pleasure out of the craft elements of the job. In fact, writing a book is a lot of work, and often work of a very tedious kind. It’s heavy labor, more akin to building a house than puttering in your basement. (And no one builds a house purely for the pleasure of it.)

But writing a book isn’t something that can be done in a week or a month. It weighs on you; it’s a bear to wrestle into submission, and it’s followed by the (generally) no-fun publishing process. And then you’ve got to endure the almost inevitable commercial disappointment. Imagine going to all the trouble of building your dream house (by hand, naturally) – and then people ignore it.

I do agree with Michael – book writing isn’t done in a week or a month. And during a deadline, or if you’re having trouble with your subject, it can weigh on you. But he’s focusing exclusively on the darker moments of writing.

Sure there are times when the words feel as if they have to be dragged out of your very soul; but then there are other times when your fingers can’t move fast enough in order to keep up with your thoughts. Sometimes you get a good editor, sometimes you don’t, but when you have a good one, the editing process can be enormously satisfying.

And when you get your first copy of the book, what a feeling of accomplishment. The same feeling you get when someone is kind enough to write you and let you know how much they enjoyed the book, or how much the book helped them.

According to Michael, the only reasons why people would consider writing books are:

  • Some hope to hit the jackpot despite the odds
  • Some have a dream about being an author, or taking part in “literature”
  • Some are obsessed lunatics – ie., they feel they just gotta
  • Some don’t know better (these usually never write a second book)
  • Some have other ambitions, and writing a book is a step along the way
  • A handful are determined to be trade-book authors as a career, and know what the game consists of, and have (or think they have) the tenacity, toughness, talent, luck and energy to succeed

I am guilty. I am an obsessed lunatic.

Seriously, Michael Blowhard has good points: writing books is not an easy thing to do; it takes time, discipline, a certain kind of writing ability, and most people who write don’t make a living at it. As for being part of the literary world, well, for most of us, writing a book might get us a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s, but only at one located in a Barnes & Noble. But still, there are some of us tenacious, tough, determined, hopefully talented people who keep at it. Because in the end, the writing’s the thing. That’s one Michael forgot to include in his list.

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