Conventions

“Everyone writes books these days…”

…was a comment shared with me recently. It was, I suspected, meant as a double-edged sword. It was a combination of an “innocent” statement (by an older relation) and, I felt, a mild disparagement of what I, and others, do.

I believe most people honestly have little idea how much effort a writer puts into the work. That’s one reason I tend not to be quick to criticize other writers; I know what they go through. Chances are he or she didn’t just toss that novel together in about “15 minutes”…

[Screen capture of Amazon.co.uk.]

Yes, due to the advent of the Kindle there is an element of truth in that observation altered slightly: “Everyone can publish a book these days.” And one of the huge problems in our “Kindle world” is that unfortunately there are some who do “toss together” e-books in “15 minutes.” And often it is difficult, in merely a few seconds’ glance while clicking around at, say, the Amazon web site, to be able to spot one of those.

I recall a television critic back in New York, in the mid-1990s, remarking on how television sadly reduces everything to “the same size.” His example: We get a 2 minute news report on a celebrity’s misbehavior and after that a 2 minute report on mass murder in Rwanda or the war in former Yugoslavia. They are ABSOLUTELY NOT of the same depth or wider significance, yet they are both shared with us as viewers in quick succession on that flat box as if they are.

Similarly, the word “novel.” It describes most everything from “70 page” e-books of sometimes copyright-infringing questionable “fan fiction” to “100,000 word” original fictional efforts authors may have spent years researching and writing. Are they the same thing?

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. On Kindle device. Click to expand.]

That said, with indie publishing courtesy of the likes of the Kindle, there is indeed more out there written than ever before. Writers are certainly writing something for just about every reading taste. If you moan that you can’t find anything out there that you want to read, to be honest you are not really looking.

[Screen capture of some “classics” on my Kindle. On iPad.]

It is wonderful. We live in the best of times to be readers: our choices are now close to inexhaustible and at our fingertips thanks to e-readers. No longer do we have to dig through a library hoping to find an old book; likely we can download it in seconds – often for a pittance or even for free.

Immersed daily in what I do – and following also the writing efforts of some other indie authors I know – I don’t spend much time thinking about criticism of what I do. “It” tends to come to my mind only when – as in that throwaway statement tossed at me – I find myself thinking about “it.” I try to spend my energies mostly on my writing.

[My novels so far: Passports, Frontiers, Distances, and Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Photo by me, 2017.]

I suppose concentrating on that has enabled me to produce four novels in five years. I also notice (mostly through social media) far too many “writers” who have been claiming FOR YEARS that they are writing a book… and I’m still waiting to see it. I find by now I want to beg them: Please, write the book already!

I want to tell them, stop reviewing other people’s books. Stop talking about what you are reading. Stop discussing what J.K. Rowling or someone else high-profile is writing. Stop procrastinating. In short, stop talking about writing and write!

So, yes, more people now than ever are able to write a book and reach an audience; and overall that is a good thing. But “everyone writes books these days?” Hmm. Actually, that’s definitely not the case.💻📚

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.😊🇬🇧

4 replies »

  1. Interesting post 😊 I write short stories on my blog and combine them with the music I make, but I was surprised when I started the blog how few blogs contain actual stories, most seem to be “writing about writing”. Not that it’s wrong, I just thought it would be different 🙂

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    • Thanks for stopping by. 😊 I think writing about writing is fine – if it goes somewhere. When I read such elsewhere, often I feel I have learned something. But just writing about writing…that never leads to a finished book? I don’t see the point, and I suspect it is just a cover for procrastination.🤔

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  2. Definitely agree with this, especially about the observation on the news time slots. I noticed the same thing before, glad to know I’m not the only one!
    And well said, writer should go finish their books already. A lot of times it’s rough and life gets in the way. Nevertheless, we all have to do what it takes and make some sacrifices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello! Thanks for the thoughts! Indeed, life can get in the way. I had a dear friend die while I was in the midst of writing one of my books, and after her death I couldn’t look at the manuscript afterwards for weeks. But if life isn’t the problem, then there are no excuses for procrastination! Writers must write! 🙂

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