Is writing an art…or a business?

25 04 2009

Good news Americans:  the gluttonous capitalism that you thought died with the recession is alive and well…with writers of all people!

How do I know this?  Well, it’s one of the main take-aways from a writers’ conference I attended today sponsored by Boston’s Grub Street.

It was brought home to me by one question posed by one presenter.  Her question to all of us newbies:  “Do you know anyone–ANYONE–famous?” Her premise?  If you don’t–get to know at least ONE famous person now.  Why?  “So that–when you’re published–they can write a blurb on the back of your book.”  She then went on to elaborate on her schemes to get on “EXTRA” (the gossip tv show) and the importance of product placement in a book as a way to fatten your pay check.

Oh my God.  THIS is the most important pearl of wisdom for budding writers?  How to manipulate the system?  Here I thought I had left politics (AND, if writing is this political, then why, oh why, did Nancy Pelosi’s recent book sell only 4 copies …not even one per grandchild!)?

Her question left me wondering:  is writing an art..or a business?  Is it like everything else in America today and all about the fame…and fortune.  Or, put another way, is the prevailing view…among writers, at least Boston writers…that, if you write a book in the forest and no one hears it…you haven’t written?

Reassuring to a room of laid-off capitalists who figure “anyone can write”.  Less than inspiring to folks who actually see writing as…well…art.  As lifting the veil to reveal the truth of the human soul.  I understand that, if you want to make a living at writing (as I do), you have to make sure you get paid.  But, what ever happened to letting the art speak for itself?  When you think of the truly successful artists (and, no, Britney, Miley and Lady Ga Ga do not count), do you think they put business before their art?  Oh…wait…Madonna.  SEX book.  Do you think she’ll write a blurb on the back of my first book?  I’ll even adopt an African baby…(one, just one).

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5 responses

25 04 2009
Wehe

I am reassured now. Perhaps I can be a writer… I know two semi-famous people – went to the same church as a kid – the Gilpins, and also, my mom was friends with Morgan Fairchild’s mom. You should have it made, Will, what with your childhood roots… Ohh, wait. I do see your point. Nicely done, again.
🙂

26 04 2009
Ridgewalker

I once saw David Letterman on the streets of Rome….does that count? Even writers, it seems, can’t escape the human condition. So it begs the question: where does one find fellow humans committed to loftier values than their bank account? Or, perhaps more importantly, how do we find our way to such a space? Anyone have a roadmap?

Will: congrats on starting this journey. Can’t wait to see where it takes you and where you end up taking us. Safe travels my friend.

9 05 2009
jill

I strongly recommend NOT adopting a baby. Tyra B would kill you dead. Which would be ok, because you’re ok with death. But then again, who would write your blog when you’re dead? Never mind, you’d simply channel through me and I’d be writing it. And Kalin would hate living with me! 🙂

9 05 2009
jill

Although I would force him to the Revels every Christmas…

9 05 2009
mtmbloglife

now THAT would be worth dying for!!! 🙂

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