Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm So Glad Maureen Dowd Was Off

Or else we wouldn't have gotten this BEAUTIFUL piece by Timothy Egan. If you get sick of the celebrity memoirs and fiction that more resembles what my dog deposits, you'll want to give this a read.

Typing Without a Clue

Oops, it turns out that lovely newspaper whence this article comes requires a registered account to read. In case you don't have one, here's the skinny.

Joe the Plumber is writing a book. I will reserve comments about the things he apparently cannot do: pay taxes, hold a legit plumbing certification, etc. There's a good chance we'll discover he can't write either, but it won't stop the juggernaut of money thrown his way for telling us his story (as if John McCain didn't tell us enough about Joe's life).

Timothy Egan tells us Sarah Palin is next in line for a high-profile memoir. Allegedly, a seven figure advance is in the works for her story (I can see it now: Chapter 1 Staring Across the Bering Strait). Mr. Egan in his article points out that a book from her is potentially a verbal train wreck. Case in point (Palin in an interview with Matt Lauer on when she knew they'd lost the election):

“I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate that we were the true change agent that would progress this nation.”

His point resonates clearly. Writing is not like teaching. Just because you think you can do it, does not mean you can. And for those of us who ARE doing it, tempers tend to flare when dilettantes swoop in and steal the spotlight--which is in itself inaccurate since writers work in solitude and most of the ones I know prefer to stay there. I think really writers resent people who take the spotlight and don't represent the purists of the craft faithfully.

Egan again:
Day in, day out, [writers] labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.

Our columnist, one faithful Mr. Egan, leaves these charlatans with one final piece of advice:

For the others — you friends of celebrities penning cookbooks, you train wrecks just out of rehab, you politicians with an agent but no talent — stop soaking up precious advance money.

Amen, brother! (But what am I getting all self-righteous for? Not like Joe the Plumber stole my book deal or anything. But it is fun to think so.)

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