Search

A letter to a writer

Monday 11/8/21

I had two dealings today with writers, which is unusual for me. Someone asked me for a blurb for their novel. I said sure, whatever they need. And then one writer sent me a correspondence he had with another writer. A younger writer. And this writer wrote a book that the person I know believes in, which says something to me, as this is one of the better, smarter people I have known. They are in my IC. His younger friend detailed having five Zoom meetings with agents. The short version of the story is that no one read a single page, for the most part, and turned him down because he was a white male. Another agent cancelled, and sent someone in his stead that this fellow said looked like they were twelve. What they said they wanted was either a Black writer, a queer writer, or something about vampires. That's actually how these people are. The writer was very dispirited. One agent said that his prose was excellent, and another said that she could find no faults in what she had read. But they were also looking for people of color and of preferred sexual identities. The person came back to the guy I know, and he said that maybe he should change his book, but probably not, because it was all pointless anyway, and literature from straight, white men was on the way out, no matter its quality. I read this, with this writer knowing I'd been copied on the email, and tonight, as I deal with various fresh forms of hell, I wrote them this note, which is 100% true. This is the industry. And it is the most corrupt, bigoted industry in human history. The thing is, no one knows, and no one cares. Because they've made it so that nobody reads. Reading is not a part of people's lives, which is how this can all happen. But people need to know about how the industry really works. Nothing in this world is worse than publishing. There is not an iota of hyperbole in my words. The last things publishing are about is the quality of the work, merit, what can sell, what would move people. Publishing has nothing to do with those things.


***


(Redacted name): I don’t know who you are or what your book says, but I do know this: what is in that book, one way or the other, has nothing to do with what you experienced. That is about two things: you are white and a male. Find a different way. I don’t know what that way is for you. But the reason I write this to you is simply to say, if you change what you wrote, change it because you think that improves the work. Don’t change it because of these bigots. They are not buying anything—underline that—because they think it’s any good. They could care less. Further, they have no clue. It’s the color of your skin. Your gender. Or whatever word one is supposed to pretend matters. And after that, they’re interested in mediocrity and work that resembles other mediocre work. Don’t be defeatist. Groups with guitars were once said to be on the way out, too, circa 1962. These are just moronic bigots, man. They are a problem, but they’re too stupid, ultimately, and inconsequential, to be a damning. Don’t let them be. And good luck with your writing.