I had never heard of Peter Sacks before I came across this Huffington Post article by him. His whining doesn’t exactly motivate me to go out and buy one of his books to stop him from whining. He’s whining because he’s a “serious writer” who doesn’t sell well-enough.
I am drug down by the sensation that I’m beating my head against the Great Wall of American popular culture, which seems absolutely impervious to books about serious subjects. Yes, I confess, I’m one of those. I am a writer of “serious” non-fiction.
It gets better and better as his piece goes on and on and on.
I write books basically for free. In fact, when you consider that pound of flesh I lose each time I produce a well researched, engagingly readable 350 page book, giving my heart and soul to something I believe deeply in, I am in essence paying for the privilege of giving the world that book.
Welcome to the world of most writers, Mr. Sacks. Writing doesn’t pay the bills. Writing is something they do on the side for enjoyment.
Reading, and reading what strikes one’s idiosyncratic fancy, is a declining art. Reading books is even more endangered. A recent AP-Ipsos poll found that almost one of every three Americans hadn’t read a single book in the past year.
Wrong. People are reading more. They’re just not reading more books. They’re reading A LOT online. Also, with people are working more but their wages have been flat for 5 or 6 years now. So it’s not like people have the time to read. Reading books takes more time than most people have.
But the pain of authorship is all the worse when I know in my heart of hearts that I have written a very good book. I know that I have done justice to my subject. I have done justice to the ordinary people whose stories I have told. I have done justice to the notion that some readers really do care, and are willing to open their eyes wide to reality rather than be put to sleep by the Huxleyan drug of American Idol and Paris Hilton.
Life’s not fair, Mr. Sacks. Newsflash: people who are fixated on Paris Hilton probably can’t read anyway. Faulkner’s books were out of print at one point in his own lifetime. Emily Dickinson’s poetry wasn’t published until after she died. “Moby Dick” bombed and then killed Herman Melville’s career.
And then he ends with this drivel.
We wonder what it might be like to live on the light side, where A Thousand Splendid Suns shines so brightly that few inhabitants of American culture could possibly be unaware of it. For those of us on the dark side, however, we endure, hoping for just an ember of that warmth. That would be enough. That would keep us going.
Boo-hoo, you’re book didn’t sell as well as Khaled Hosseini’s. Neither did the vast majority of books published last year. Take comfort in the fact that you’re published and that you continue to get published. Make the most of it. Personally, I’d trade my position as a paid-nothing blogger for a moderately paid fiction writer/blogger. and so would many other people out there. If you don’t like the position you’re in, then step down. I’m sure there are thousands who would gladly like a shot at taking your spot in the publishing food chain.