I saw a piece of information in passing the other day, that said something like “a recent study finds majority of people in the UK would like to write a book”. I wasn’t really surprised, since the majority of people that I know also want to write a book someday.
I have friends who read, and friends who don’t. I have friends who are writers, and friends who are not. While writing is something that, I believe, is more intuitive than learned, I also believe that there is more to writing an entire book, or even a short story than most people realize.
Self-publishing has opened up a world of opportunities for those who always wanted to write a book but who either never got accepted by a publisher, or who just wanted to do it on their own. It has created possibilities for people who may have otherwise never been authors at all. And some of the books that come out of self-publishing are really well done. But some of them are not.
I think that reading and writing are two separate skills—just because you have read a lot of books doesn’t mean that you will make a good writer, and just because you are a good writer doesn’t mean that you read everything you can get your hands on. Often, the two go hand in hand, but not always.
A lot of the time, people link the two, and believe that because they read often and enjoy it, that they will be a good writer. And even if they are good at writing things like emails and letters to family, writing a book or a story is another kind of beast altogether. Creative writing is vastly different than writing a journal or a blog.
It takes more than an idea to write a good piece of fiction, because once you get into the meat of it, you find that you have to have a thesaurus stored in your brain, an active understanding of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and a love of subtlety. It can take the longest time to write a simple passage, while a more detailed one could come with ease.
Writing isn’t just about telling a story, it’s how you tell it that matters. You don’t just need to find the words that explain what’s happening, you have to find the words that make it feel real and piece them together one by one until you have a sentence that sums up exactly what you are seeing in your mind.
To me, you shouldn’t write a story because you hope it will make you famous, you should write a story because it is dying to get out of your head. You should have respect for the craft, and for those who take it seriously. You should write because it’s what you love to do and because you put an effort into understanding its nuances. You should feel pride in perfecting every last phrase and sentence, because that is what makes the piece stand out.
I have had so many calls or emails from people who have an idea for a book, who I really don’t think should publish a thing. Many have had ideas for stories that were either unoriginal, or just wanted to write a book to check it off of their buckets lists. When did writing a book become such a casual fantasy? While I applaud self-publishing for giving everyone an opportunity to go public with whatever they choose, I can also see a downside to it.
With everyone wanting to publish a book, and having the ability to do so, I worry that many stories and books that deserve recognition will never be what they could have been because the slushpile is just too big. They get pushed aside because of too many poorly written books saturating the market.
Of course, even publishers put out terrible books, and good writing is subjective. This I know. I just feel that since so many people want to be authors, the writers out there, like many of you, who really try, who live and breathe it, may get swallowed up in the ever-growing pit of less-than-stellar self-published content.
How many people do you know that want to be authors? Would you go to a publisher before self-publishing?
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