Saturday, January 15, 2022

Are Writers More Important Than Actors?

A film's foundation is (inarguably) its writing; thus, I've always wondered why actors, and even directors, often get more notoriety than writers. 

Thus, I wasn't completely surprised to learn that Ridley Scott, the director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator - to name a few, reportedly agreed with me when he concluded:

"[...] writing is everything. Everything else is dressing. Sorry, actors."

Thursday, December 30, 2021

For Writers, Reading is Working

We've done a number of posts about the importance of reading for writers. For example, we shared that Lisa See advised:

Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.

Consequently, while reading, even for pleasure, a writer is (organically) working on (improving) his or her writing. 

Thus, Jennifer Weiner, the New York Times bestselling author of That Summer, reportedly fittingly advised:

If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you're working. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Does It Pay [Well] to Be a Writer?

Concepción de León posted on the New York Times "Does It Pay [Well] to Be a Writer?" (Jan. 5, 2019). In the piece, de León wrote that in 2017 the median income for full-time writers was $20,300 and for part-time writers it was $6,080:

Writing has never been a lucrative career choice, but a recent study by the Authors Guild, a professional organization for book writers, shows that it may not even be a livable one anymore.

According to the survey results, the median pay for full-time writers was $20,300 in 2017, and that number decreased to $6,080 when part-time writers were considered. The latter figure reflects a 42 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $10,500. These findings are the result of an expansive 2018 study of more than 5,000 published book authors, across genres and including both traditional and self-published writers.

And de León shared that, unlike in the 1900s, today's writers need to supplement their incomes (e.g., teaching):

“In the 20th century, a good literary writer could earn a middle-class living just writing,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, citing William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever. Now, most writers need to supplement their income with speaking engagements or teaching. Strictly book-related income — which is to say royalties and advances — are also down, almost 30 percent for full-time writers since 2009.

de León attributed the decline in writer's pay to a decline in freelance journalism and "Amazon’s lion’s share of the self-publishing, e-book and resale market":

Writing for magazines and newspapers was once a solid source of additional income for professional writers, but the decline in freelance journalism and pay has meant less opportunity for authors to write for pay. Many print publications, which offered the highest rate, have been shuttered altogether.

The decline in earnings is also largely because of Amazon’s lion’s share of the self-publishing, e-book and resale market, Ms. Rasenberger said. The conglomerate charges commission and marketing fees to publishers that Ms. Rasenberger said essentially prevent their books from being buried on the site. Small and independent publishers, which have fewer resources and bargaining power, have been particularly hard hit. Book publishing companies are passing these losses along to writers in the form of lower royalties and advances, and authors also lose out on income from books resold on the platform. 

de León reminded me of Jerry Saltz's New York article "How to be an Artist [e.g., Writer]" where Saltz wrote that an artist slash writer should not feel bad about the likelihood of being poor, because one should not write to be rich: 

Lesson 20: Accept That You Will Likely Be Poor

Even though all we see of the art world these days are astronomical prices, glitz, glamour, and junkie-like behavior, remember that only one percent of one percent of one percent of all artists become rich off their artwork. You may feel overlooked, underrecognized, and underpaid. Too bad. Stop feeling sorry for yourself; that’s not why you’re doing this.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Writer or ReWriter?

Should writers refer to themselves rewriters? I ask because writers often spend more time rewriting than writing.

John Winslow Irving, the author of The World According to Garp, reported shared:

Rewriting is surely three-quarters of my life as a writer, and it may be the part of my life as a writer that I value the most or have the greatest confidence in. Fine tuning, fine tuning, fine tuning—I love it. 

In the end, rewriting is writing; thus, writer is a fitting (job) description. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Writing Style & Design


Terry Pratchett, the English novelist, who may be best known for his Discworld series (41 books!), reportedly, in terms of writing drafts, advised:
First draft: let it run. Turn all the knobs up to 11.

Second draft: hell. Cut it down and cut it into shape.

Third draft: comb its nose and blow its hair.

In other words, the first draft is a brain dump, the second draft is a deletion of the frivolous, and the third draft is an addition of style slash design.  

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Three Vital Matters for Writers: Journaling, Reading & Writing

Madeleine L'Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time, listed three vital matters for writers: journaling, reading and writing

First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. 

And second, you need to read. You can't be a writer if you're not a reader. It's the great writers who teach us how to write. 

The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it's for only half an hour — write, write, write 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Three (3) Reason to Write

Based on previous posts, I'm listing three (positive) reasons to become a writer. (Of course, there are more, but let's stick to three - for now.)

1. Write to inspire by spreading (positive ideas)

Allegra Goodman, the winner of the Whiting Award for Fiction (1991), saidA true writer opens people's ears and eyes, not merely playing to the public, but changing minds and lives. This is sacred work.

2. Write to avoid ennui and depression 

It has been reported that Michael Crichton, the famous author of works like Jurassic Park, advised: “Working inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you are interested, keep working. If you are bored, keep working.”

3. Write to increase tenacity slash self-control 

We learned from Danielle Steel's Glamour profile (MAY 9, 2019): The author has written 179 books [...] To pull it off, she works 20 to 22 hours a day. (A couple times a month, when she feels the crunch, she spends a full 24 hours at her desk.)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Write to Spread Ideas & Messages

lvcandy\Getty Images

Hugh Prather wrote in Notes to Myself

“If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write”

I disagree with Prather, because like Seth Godin related, the desire should be: "[...] marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority [via writing]."

19. Writing a book is a tremendous experience. It pays off intellectually. It clarifies your thinking. It builds credibility. It is a living engine of marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority. You should write one.

Writing is difficult, and one will have a difficult time finishing a book if he or she isn't energized by the idea of spreading and delivering a dear message.

It's similar to reading a non-engaging book, because it's difficult to read a book that isn't delivering anything - not even entertainment.

For example, if you don't find stories about Brooklyn based conflicted writers engaging, you're going to find it difficult write about them and\or read and\or watch The Tenants.

And any writer, like Nabokov, who relates that he or she doesn't write to spread an idea is (possibly) a... 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Are Writers Narcissistic or Altruistic?

Mary Karr, the award-winning poet and New York Times best-selling memoirist, reportedly opined:

All writers are narcissistic [...] No one can sit in a room by themselves for 12 hours a day thinking about what they're thinking and not be a little more self-focused than the normal person. You're definitely on the far end of the [racist] bell curve. 

And per Poetry School, Sylvia Plath said: 

I think writers are the most narcissistic people. 

But Dictionary.com defines narcissism [ nahr-suh-siz-em ] as an: "inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity."

And this is how the Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder [...] is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. 

Thus, I would disagree with Karr's and Plath's assessment that (most) writers are narcissistic. I don't think that (most) writers possess "excessive self-love" and have "a deep need for excessive attention". 

On the contrary, I would opine that (most) writers are altruist, because they "sit in a room by themselves for 12 hours a day", because they desperately want to share their art (with the world). 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

"American Horror Story: Double Feature": Write Under the Influence


On American Horror Story: Double Feature (s10e04), Belle Noir is on a self-financed book tour for her self-published romance novel, Martha’s Cherry Tree, which is a "[...] racy retelling of the
George and Martha Washington story." 

In chapter 17, Martha discovers that George has been in one of the maid's bed, "little innocent" Penelope, but instead of confronting George, Martha seduces the maid by: "[...] kissing her hairy warmth between the young maid's legs."

(Maid [ \ ˈmād \ ] noun : an unmarried girl or woman especially when young : VIRGIN. [Merriam-Webster])

Although, Noir was informed, "You're a good writer," there were (only) four bookworms at the reading, and Noir (only) sold one book. Consequently, she took a pill that would super enhance the quality and speed of her writing; thus, Noir wrote a 400 plus page novel in one night, but the pill had horrible side-effects. 

If a writer doesn't want to end up like Noir or, say F. Scott Fitzgerald, we advise writers to, like Voltaire, write of the influence of coffee but, unlike Balzac, not too much.