I’m a wannabe who doesn’t work hard

… or so says Author (notice the capital A?) Sue Grafton.

In a recent interview this is what Miss Grafton had to say about those who decide to self-publish:

Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.

When just barely pressed, Miss Grafton continued her thoughts on the efforts of these unwashed masses not good enough for Big, Fat Publishing Contracts (or, as she calls them, “wannabe”s):

Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.

In some ways she has a point. Not all self-pubbed work is good. But not all traditionally published work is good either. Apples and oranges, you know.

Her comments still hock me off.

Now, if you’re already aware of the firestorm of indignation rolling through the indie and self-pubbing world regarding Traditional Publishing’s latest Foot in Mouth when it comes to us self-pubbers, what I’m about to say will seem familiar at best and redundant at worst.

Regardless, I’m saying it anyway.

How dare she. Seriously. How. Dare. She.

You know, I just published my third book today. Yeah, BFD, right? Well, to me it is. Maybe not to Queen Sue, but to me it is. And it should be.

I worked my ass off. I wrote all day and then late into the night. I even wrote as the sun came up knowing full well that another full day of writing lay ahead. I edited, I shaped, I cut and rewrote. I trimmed and hemmed and polished that baby ’till she f’ing shined. And I did this knowing that not one single person would probably buy this book the first week. Or the second week. Or ever.

But I did it anyway because I love it and I had a great story to tell.

And listen, Sue, I’ve done the research on ancient Uruk. I can tell you — as best one can based on what little has been discovered of their civilization — what money they used, what writing they had, how their houses were constructed, how twisted their religious beliefs were, and how their days were structured. I could even draw you a fucking map of the city, so don’t you dare tell me I don’t do my research. Is any of this info in my books? No, not really. Is it important I know it?

Hell. Yes.

But you know what, Miss Grafton? I do all of this without complaint and without prompting. Without an Editor looking over my shoulder or a Publishing House guiding me with a schedule. I do all of this — and still plan to, by the way — without a big advance propping up my bank account and a legion of fans ready to snap up whatever drivel and tripe I sling on the shelf.

And you can’t say that, now, can you, Sue.

At the end of the day, though, I, a simple wannabe who doesn’t work hard and can’t take rejection, have something you’ll never have:

I can publish any fucking thing I want.

I can be brave and creative, ballsy and controversial, amazing and incredible and unforgettable and breathtaking in ways your Publisher will never allow you to be. I can kill Judas with a kiss and walk with a Jesus modern-day Christians wouldn’t recognize. I can drive my narrative forward with a gruesome sacrifice of a child or an anonymous soldier, an ancient Elder or a deliciously evil Old Crone. I can create Seers and Magis, Spirits and Immortals in ways your focus grouped bestsellers simply can’t.

Unlike you, I’m not driven by fear.

I’m driven by freedom.

And that, Miss Grafton, is why this talentless hack who doesn’t work hard self-publishes.

7 comments on “I’m a wannabe who doesn’t work hard

  1. Lori says:

    I am sorry. I am not a fan of Sue Grafton. I am not part of the sheep herd either. I like things to be different. I like stories not “bories”! You know it pisses a person off when you need to make up a word to describe her crap. I have read her stuff when I was between receiving new material…you know waiting for decent writers to publish something new. I know the work that goes into books when you are self published. I think you work harder because you want to be correct in your facts. You don’t want to make the mistake of stealing from others and you want to make it interesting. You know that no editor is there to catch your mistakes which makes you read and reread until your eyes cross. You doubt and you toil. I hope to self publish one day. I could only be so lucky to do so. I hope that I someday can blow Ms. Grafton’s mind. For now I will enjoy the indie authors and the self published. Thank you for this!

  2. amschultzcom says:

    YIKES! Holy macaroni!

    I guess if you’re gonna go for it, you go for it.

    If you’re ever getting stuck on the writing, I’ll make sure to send Sue Grafton over to give you words of encouragement. 🙂

  3. Teresa Nieland says:

    Love it, Jonathan! You write for the passion of writing. For this, you are no less successful than any famous writer of today or yesterday. Saying that, you also have the talent that makes a writer famous. The beauty is that you are fulfulled either way simply for the love of your art, not by the approval of others! 🙂

    • Thank you, Teresa. Of course I want people to like what I do. But I also get hocked off by those who are more successful painting those who aren’t with a very broad brush. The issue is less about Sue Grafton and more about the dismissive, condescending attitude. I’m considering writing a blog post about it. 🙂

  4. […] “wannabes who don’t work hard” – as Big Five Author Sue Grafton once infamously called us ( https://martuktheholy.com/2012/08/16/im-a-wannabe-who-doesnt-work-hard/ ) – I’ve forgotten my place. I’ve strayed from the tried-and-at-one-time-true narrative. You […]

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