I was in a client meeting a few weeks ago. I suppose I was more articulate than usual that day because one of the meeting participants asked me when I was going to write a book. A nice compliment but a very tough thing to do. I started my career in book publishing and I saw first hand how hard it is to complete a manuscript. It’s not for the faint hearted.
That’s why I loved reading today’s opinion in the New York Times. Timothy Egan hits the nail on the head.
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.”
I could not agree more. With limited funds to advance to authors, publishers have to choose between literature and pop culture. Unfortunately the money’s in pop culture.