On Better Ways To Get Groupies

August 27th, 2007 · 1 Comment
by Kassia Krozser

It’s not even as if writing is that glamorous. You sit alone for hours on end honing your deathless prose, go days without really talking to anyone and, if you’re very lucky, within a year or so you will have a manuscript that almost no one will want to read. Your friends and family will come to dread requests for constructive feedback – which they know really means just saying, “This is far better than Amis or McEwan” – and if, by some small chance, you do land a book deal you will spend the week of publication wondering why your book isn’t piled up at the front of Waterstones and why you haven’t even picked up a single, measly review in the local paper.

None of this would matter much if being a writer was to somehow make you fantastically attractive. After all, who would care about being broke and angst-ridden if there was the compensation of hordes of groupies? But it doesn’t. At least, not in my experience. Or that of any other writer I know. Though it may well be different for those whose books sell in the hundreds of thousands. Even if, by some small chance, people do think you are modestly talented and creative, they still aren’t going to fancy you any more.

File Under: Quote of the Week

1 response so far ↓

  • Christine // Aug 29, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Ouch, ouch. Too true, painfully true. Except it sounds like your loved ones actually READ your book (then dread giving constructive feedback), whereas mine pretend, at best. Add to that, you hear literary agents say that if you don’t sell 5,000 books out of the gate, you can forget about selling your next book. You call your publisher’s book distributor for an update, and…well, now that the libraries have all ordered, the number is scarcely rising. And say you won a $5K publication prize intended to promote the book…and still the book waits. For what, it has no idea. Say you have decent reviews–author reviews, anyway–and still it doesn’t make a difference. I thought I tricked life all along–if a date came late, I left. If a mate asked for space, I gave him/her more than he/she wanted. If I faced sexism at work, I’d be sure I worked four times harder so they’d have to respect me. And now I’ve published a novel. Hoorah! Someone wants me to read at a venue where a student audience won’t buy books? I’ll be there! Publisher can’t afford to put me in a contest? I’ll pay the entry fee! A friend tries to tell me she’s read my book? (Remind me how it ends?) I’ll nod and smile, letting the lie lie easy. No escaping whorishness in this gig. Then, say, your neighbors somehow get hold of a copy. You live in a near-theocracy, of which you’re not a member. Suddenly your daughters aren’t asked to play with other neighborhood children anymore. The content–well, it’s whorish too. Smoking! Drinking! Drugs! Sex! Feminism! You wonder what the hell you were thinking in the first place. You realize you weren’t thinking…you were somehow on autopilot, you couldn’t stop. You were chasing some scrawny dog that had more life in it than you’d imagined. You look at your other manuscripts, stacked in a corner somewhere, or maybe just on a hard drive. You can’t conceive of a cover letter that would hold its hand, much less haul yourself to the post office again. So what to do, what to do? I think read. Go back to why you wanted to write in the first place and read something good. Let it suffice if you can, and if you can’t? Keep beating yourself up with your books.