Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

It’s the first day of the year, so I would imagine that many people have made or are making New Year’s resolutions. As in years past, I figure there is a large number of people who have decided that this is the year that they will write that novel they keep saying they will write. Books are a status symbol. There are many people who want to have written a book.

I think people like the idea of writing a book because it is difficult enough that it seems like a big accomplishment, but there’s nothing to keep anyone from trying. With four books behind me, writing a book doesn’t seem like as much of an accomplishment as it once did, though it hasn’t gotten any easier.

Once someone writes a book, it doesn’t take long to discover that there are even more status symbols in publishing. In the publishing industry, a person with an agent has a higher status than someone who has only finished a manuscript. A person with a publishing contract has a higher status than people with no more than an agent. A book isn’t deemed good unless a publisher decides to publish the book

I don’t have advice for people who want to write a book this year. The only thing I would suggest is for writers to consider their motives. The simple truth is that writing a book isn’t all that hard and writers who are looking at their book as a status symbol will fight hard to make what they have accomplished seem more important than what others have accomplished. It also doesn’t pay very well. If your goal is to write a book this year then by all means do so, but don’t expect other people to be as impressed with your accomplishments.


Gwen Stewart said...

Hi Timothy,

I've read interesting statistics on this. Something like over 80% of the population believes they "have a book in them". A significantly smaller percentage begin that book. Of that smaller percentage, most never make it past page 100.

My experience is only my experience. I speak for one writer: me. That said, the only reason I would write a story is if I can't NOT write it.

The idea of book as status symbol brings a smile to my face as well. Most writers will discover very quickly that this gig is full of rejection and hard knocks, not high status. Thank God He didn't prompt me to write for status. What a huge set-down I would have had if that were the case.

Happy New Year!

Timothy Fish said...


You're right. Writing books doesn't always bring high status. The situation looks different to people who have written books than for those who have not, but there is a degree of status associated with having written a book. People respect authors and the work they know they have put into writing. But when an author looks around and sees that his peers have also written books he doesn't have the chance to glory in his accomplishment as much as he might have thought before he completed the work.

Avily Jerome said...

As always, your blog is a beacon of hope and encouragement.