Sunday, November 16, 2008

Writing As Carpentry

I've recently read the blogs of several writers, mainly out of curiosity, to see what writers that I like might be saying when they are not writing books. On the whole the experience has been disappointing. Most of those blogs talk about the carpentry of writing: how to condense 250 000 pages into some acceptable number, how to introduce a second voice, how to figure out the best opening chapter. I call this carpentry, because a reader is as interested in that as a fan of beautiful furniture might be about the precise details of its creation.

It could be that I'm the only reader who is not into all that. Neither am I especially excited about the other topics that often appear on those blogs: marketing of the books and the sniffles and coughs and aches of everyday living and where to go to get your book signed by the author.

All this is part of the new marketing trend in books: the writers must now do almost all the PR for their books, traveling the country on book-signing tours, appearing on television and radio nonstop and so on. It could be that this has always been the case, but somehow I think not. What I do think is that this is not the way we should be going, because being a good writer is in no way correlated with being a good marketer or a good speaker or a good media person.

That may be what is behind the author blogs and author websites and the whole idea that somehow the readers are not only interested in but have the right to know about how a particular writer saws the planks and creates the joins in the book: The Author As The Publishing Firm.