So I was all set to write up my review of The Hobbit (aka How Benedict Cumberbatch Laid Waste to My Ovaries) and then I made the mistake of opening MSN news. A headline reads, “Gillian Anderson Inks Sci-Fi Book Deal.” This catches my eye. I’m a fan of the X-Files and I think Ms. Anderson is a fine actress. My immediate thought is that maybe she’s always wanted to be a writer and had this manuscript lying around her house since college and she never got to do anything with it because life and the entertainment industry got in the way. Maybe now that her career has slowed down a bit, she finally got the chance to polish up that book and submit it to a publisher. Maybe she had published some short stories in her youth that were really good and they just went unnoticed. Good for her!
According to the article, she’ll be writing with a co-author (a real writer who will do the majority of the book most likely) to develop a new series to go with Simon & Schuster’s new speculative fiction line Simon451 (clever, huh? they just discovered that speculative fiction was a thing). She says that she’s looking forward to her venture and that she feels that she has the perfect background material to do this. That she “enjoys writing” but has never allowed herself the time to do it.
Brace yourselves, this next part gets loud….
NO! I do not accept this. It does not compute. Let’s make one thing very clear: writing a book is hard. Despite what Amazon and those self-pub vanity press banner ads tell you. Writing is a talent that NOT EVERYONE HAS. Even those of us who write genre fiction. It is not easy, it is not a fast track to fame and fortune. Simply “enjoying writing” is not good enough. You can “enjoy” making a grocery list. You can “enjoy” telling your kids bedtime stories. Writing, real writing, having INTEGRITY as a writer means you love it. You do it because you have to. Not because you were on a sci-fi television show twenty years ago and you’re an aging starlet who needs a shot of adrenaline in your career.
Do I blame Ms. Anderson for this? Hell no. I blame Simon and Schuster. Poor Ms. Anderson is being used as a cash cow. There are thousands of good authors out there. Authors whose prose is so clean and so breathtakingly beautiful that it makes me cry. Authors who write across a variety of genres. Authors who write every single day and turn out book after book but can’t manage to get noticed by the upper echelon of publishing because they’re too busy giving book deals to Snooki and sci-fi pinup girls. These are authors who shouldn’t be struggling to make a living. I even have examples (other than myself): Lucy Blue, Tally Johnson, S.H. Roddey, Stephen Zimmer, Michael West, Selah Janel, Crymsyn Hart, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Debra Glass, Steven Shrewsbury, James Tuck, John Hartness and COUNTLESS OTHERS who are hovering under the radar. Writers who write because they love it, not for a paycheck. And certainly not to be a whore for a publishing house.
I also blame society. Us. We the readers. Its a shame that P.T. Barnum isn’t alive today, he’d make a fortune. It seems that the only thing we’re interested in these days is the freakshow. The publishing houses, movie industry, music industry, etc. keeps heaping shit on to our plates and we keep lapping it up like its the best thing we ever ate. Fanboys that still masturbate to their posters of Agent Scully will buy her book by the truckload and Simon & Schuster will make a sack full of money off of her whether its good or not. And as an author it makes me physically ill. As a lover of art, it makes me physically ill. Almost as ill as people being able to quit their day jobs writing dinosaur porn and lactation romances.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Ms. Anderson will turn out to be a great writer (not that we’ll ever know because of her co-writer. i wonder if his name will be in big, glossy letters on the cover). Maybe she just missed her true calling. Maybe Snooki really is an intellectual whose been hiding her light under a bushel all these years. Doubtful, but stranger things have happened.
Okay. I’m going to climb down off the soapbox and go back to browsing pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch on Pinterest. As I suspected, that’s much better for my mental health.