I have a pet peeve about other writers – specifically, all of those writers who write books about how you, too, can be a successful writer.

You’ll find several shelves of them if you browse the Writing and Publishing sections of Borders or Barnes & Noble – they’ve all got clever titles like You, The Writer! or Make a Fortune Doing What You Love…, and frankly, they all go through the exact same crap that anyone who wants to work for themselves should already know – that you’re going to have to bust your ass, work really hard to find people who will buy your stuff, and then with a little luck, you might be able to make a living off of it.

I’ll admit that I even bought a couple of these time wasters myself before I finally caught on and stopped being a sucker. And what’s weird is that I normally don’t have a problem with other self-help books, but I think that these ones just hit a little too close to home to me because at the end of the day, I think they’re just a really low blow to profiteer off of other people’s dreams.

The thing is, a big part of why writing is appealing to me is the idea of the endless possibilities that the writer has when putting his own words down on paper. He can craft these amazing worlds of fantasy and wonder, or even share person experiences (possibly in a humorous manner) for the entertainment of others, but the cold, hard truth of the matter is that much like in any creative career, a relatively small number of people will ever actually get to make a living off of doing what they love. It’s because of this that I see these books and immediately think that these writers are selling out the dream, if you will – they could be writing about all of these amazing things, and instead they’ve opted to take the low road and pander to the dream because they know that they’ll sell a ton of copies to other people who want to live the dream themselves.

I don’t know if this makes any sense, but in my mind it’s kind of like Amway for creative types – instead of just being happy with creating, they’ve chosen to sell the idea of creating to other people who want to create. They make a few bucks and most of the people downstream from them make nothing … it’s all about the people at the top of the pyramid, and it really bothers me when I see writers selling out like this.

And don’t get me wrong, twenty or thirty years from now, I’d love to be successful enough to be able to write a book sharing my own experiences in these creative arts, but it certainly wouldn’t be intended as an instruction manual for being a successful writer. Stephen King had the right idea with On Writing, which is why it’s such an amazing book – because it shares his stories about the craft, and because he’s Stephen King, he’s got a lot of great stories to share. I have no problems with someone who chooses to look back over their career and reflect on their own successes and failures, but the goal of making a fortune always has to be second to simply telling a good story or it just doesn’t work.

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