What I have to say here won’t be complimentary to the principals involved, but it has nothing to do with being angry or defensive or frightened. Without pushback, stupid ideas tend to take root in soil watered by the entitled tears of unsuccessful, narcissistic princesses suffering years-long tantrums.
I was pointed to this Buzzfeed post not long ago on the internet bathroom wall known as Twitter, and it gave me some food for thought. Note that the link goes to Archive.today. I suspect this is in case the post is deleted, which sometimes happens when people post things that they later regret. Or, perhaps, to deny Buzzfeed hits.
Much of it is pathetic, some of it disgusting, and the rest tiresome. One of the great things that digital self-publishing has taught us is that if you’re a good writer and can find an audience, you don’t need the Big Five New York publishers to succeed. Your success is entirely on your shoulders. You just have to do the work. A lot of it is hard, thankless, and, unfortunately, without direct return. But it’s possible.
When I worked in publishing, the primary question that we had to ask of any manuscript submission was, "Can we sell it to our current market?" The author’s identity was immaterial except in those cases where he or she had a pre-existing following that could be leveraged as customers. Nothing else mattered at the initial contact point. It was always about how much money we could make from selling the product, whether it was a book or video.
The belief that you are being kept from success by malign forces determined to push you aside because of your gender, skin color, sexual orientation, or any of the other surface factors that you’ve elevated to primary status flies in the face of the publishing industry’s desire to acquire wealth. It doesn’t pass the smell test. Money trumps everything, even art.
Many of the TV shows that I watch are cooking competition programs like Chopped, Top Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen. For the last several years, the running joke in our household is crying racism, sexism, or homophobia when a straight white man wins, or when someone who isn’t white, straight and male gets kicked off. As in, "That is the most racist thing I’ve ever seen since the last racist thing we saw on this show."
We joke about it because there are swaths of the population who truly feel that way. We joke about it because there are always people who will blame their lack of success on everything except their own failures. We joke about it because of this. Ridiculous outlooks demand ridicule.
It’s scary to think that your success is entirely up to you, and that if you fail, you only have yourself to blame. In many respects, it’s what capitalism is all about: earning what you work to earn. But it’s also uplifting. If a hack writing crap can make bank, so can you. It’s doable. You just have to work for it.
Here’s a terrible secret that nobody likes to talk about: many writers just flat-out suck. Many can’t write at all. They have no sense of narrative, no flow from one sentence to another, no fresh ideas. But they do it anyway, plugging along. Maybe they sell a few books, maybe they don’t, maybe they sell a lot. They keep at it because they have this drive to be a writer. They’ve been told they’re good by people who love them and don’t know much more about writing than they do. But they’re not good. Not at all.
I’ve never read a single word written by any of the people pictured at the link outside of the notecards they’ve foolishly allowed themselves to be photographed holding. It’s extremely unlikely that I ever will. After all, who wants to spend time learning the thoughts of someone who wants to "abolish" you (whatever that means) or thinks you’re a racist/sexist/homophobe/bigot? Successful people don’t think like they do. They’re too busy working.
Bottom line: the reason why your books aren’t selling, the reason why your genius has gone unrecognized, has nothing to do with your genitals, skin color, or what you do with your genitals. It has everything to do with you. You just might suck at writing. Your lack of success is your fault, not anyone else’s. Grow up.
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