So I was in St. Louis, walking to a local beer retailer, and this guy I’m walking with asks, “So what do you think of writing in America?” I paused for a minute thinking about how many different aspects he could be referring to. But then I responded, “It’s a tough case. I mean we have such easy access to printing and publishing, even if that means self-publishing, that everyone thinks it’s okay to write a book.” This made me stop talking and start thinking while we walked.
It’s bad and good (whatever those two words mean). It’s bad for writers specifically if everybody wants to write. Because then, with a teeming country of writers, no writer really ever stands out, and some great ones even get lost in the whole mess. I’m not saying I’m one of those greats or anything, I’m really not, partly because I’m too young to know if I’ve failed yet or made it, and also, I think I’ll just never know. And the problem is that part of this not knowing, is due to the fact that so many people write; they all will probably never know either. And furthermore, I thought about all the bullshit “authors” out there. I thought about the complete shit books that I’ve read from would be authors. Worse, I thought about the times people have come up to me and said, “Hey, you’re an author? So am I.” And so I ask, “What have you written?” to which they reply, “Well, nothing yet, but I want to be a writer and I have some really great ideas.” And then of course you have the ones that say, “I should write a book,” and they never will of course, they just think it’s a great idea, and you’ve the step worse that says, “You should write a book about me!” as if they have some more grand things they’ve done in their lives than anyone else, and as if I’ve got the time or care even if I did have the time (I do have the time, I’ve just never met anyone worth writing about).
The point is that you’ve got so many aspiring authors, ones with ambition and ones with none, and you’ve got so many true authors, that it’s difficult as hell to make your way any more in this world where writing is now a profession, and at minimum, looked on upon with some sort of something that isn’t animosity (I believe it used to be at different points in history, depending on the part of the world). Then to compound and confirm my cynicism, I find this article, and I read it unable to wonder to myself, “Am I the asshole that this guy is trying to tell to ‘QUIT WRITING, YOU DUMBASS!’”.
But then another thought struck me, and I hold to it, I daresay. Why shouldn’t everyone write a book? The ones with good intentions should indeed have their say; the ones that already acted on those good intentions and put time into a full length novel, or short story, or some poems, should be praised for putting something onto paper, even if won’t be published and make them millions. Because at the very least, at the very most optimistic, in the face of those authors that hate poor writers that wish to be famous, maybe someday, when those writers are dead and gone for good, part of them will remain, whether it is what the critics call “good” or worthy of being published, or anything else for that matter. It exists, and maybe that’s not a bad thing at all. It might give someone, somewhere, something to read one day. And that should be the hope of any writer.