Because I am myself barking mad I feel moved to share my four varieties of insane writers with youse lot. This is different from the run of the mill craziness of every writer who writes differently to me. This is the down-to-the-bone craziness.
I just shared my list with a bookseller friend and we agreed as to the unadvisability of ever blogging them.
So here they are:
- 1. The unpublished writer who can barely string a sentence together yet is convinced that the reason they are not published is because of a conspiracy. “Those evil New York publishing houses only publish crap, deliberately keeping me from being published! They are fools and cannot recognise my genius!”1
2. The newly published writer who believes they have the keys to the kingdom and know everything there is to know. “I am published! I am real! I have met my editor and thus acquired all publishing knowledge ever! All bow down to me!”2
3. The midlist writer whose career is not where they wish it was and blames it on everything and everyone in the entire world. Especially all those foreignors who are gobbling up all their publisher’s attention and winning all the prizes that are rightfully theirs.3 When in fact success or failure in publishing is almost always a matter of luck. This is the most common form of madness simply because success in this game is such a crapshoot. If by success you mean “can make a living at it” then not that many published writers are a success. Maybe five per cent of them. Tops. If you mean “has written a book that they’re proud of” then many writers are a success. Guess which definition I prefer.
4. The super successful writer who believes that they are so important and such geniuses that they should never be edited again. Or questioned. And that their fans should lay down at their feet as if before a god. In fact, so should everyone.4
- Amazonomancy5 the obsessive consulting of the Amazon tea leaves to see if your book is selling despite knowing that Amazon tells you nothing. Absolutely NOTHING.
- Furtive facing out of your books in bookshops when the clerks aren’t looking in the largely mistaken belief that they won’t notice and that in the fifteen minutes it stays like that your book will sell.
- Conviction that your book is tanking even though it’s only been out for a week and the only evidence you have is Amazon numbers and a note from someone in Delaware/Dubbo saying they couldn’t find a copy in their local bookshop.
There are many many more. Seriously, I could go on forever listing them.6
In fact, I would argue that attempting to make a living writing is a sign of total insanity, which may be why the part-timers tend to be much more stable.
- I definitely suffered from this one during my twenty years of not being published. How could they publish HIM and not me?! [↩]
- I confess that I went through this stage. I’m so sorry! [↩]
- This is where I’m headed. Best to buy LOTS of copies of my next book to prevent me from winding up there. I’m just saying . . . [↩]
- Let’s all hope this never happens to me for I would be a MONSTER. [↩]
- The term comes from the briliant Hal Duncan [↩]
- You may have noticed that I am a big fan of lists. [↩]