|"WHSmith, why hast|
thou forsaken me?"
Sales = f + b2
where 'f' is Your Fame and 'b' is Blind Luck. This is, as I'm sure you know, a law so entrenched it makes gravity look optional. And, of course, it isn't news. There are ancient scrolls discovered in underwater caves beneath jurassic sediment which contain fresher information.
So why bring it up now, and make writers everywhere weep quietly into their el cheapo wine? Because this is the time of year when I always read a number of blogs and articles expressing this truth as if it was some kind of sudden, horrific revelation.
I blame Christmas. Writers everywhere watch the bills pile up, and their bank balance empty faster than the Greek economy, and then they switch on Radio 4 as a way to dull the pain only to find some b*&%$£* celebrity plugging their latest b*&%$£* cookery book. We watch the same names win all the awards, fill all the bookshelves, get all the attention, while we quietly tap out works of towering genius which slide inexorably into the void no matter how hard we try to prostitute ourselves for a little media coverage.
I'm as guilty of teeth-grinding jealousy as anyone. Every time I go into a bookshop and see nine metres of shelf space taken up in the C section of the alphabet by the same three books, I curse Eoin Colfer, his publisher, and all the staff who've ever worked in that shop, ever.
I know I shouldn't. I've never met Eoin Colfer, I'm sure he's a lovely bloke, but as I stare at those shelves and wipe away the tears, I just can't stop feelings of bitter, twisted agony screaming out "O Waterstones, couldn't you stock ONE less copy of Artemis Fowl, couldn't you put ONE copy of my hilarious masterpiece Pants On Fire on display?"
|Members of the Writer's Guild use |
metaphor to depict the life
of a non-famous author
I'm a professional writer. I've got a job some people would kill for. OK, I'm an almost penniless professional writer, but I'm my own boss, and I get to do something creative with my time, AND I can look quite cool at social functions next to all those accountants and management executives. I just have to put up with poverty, obscurity and a gnawing sense of envy, that's all. It's a lifestyle choice.
And I ask myself: would I really want all the hassle that notoriety brings? Would I really want the pressure to produce mind-numbing identikit Tesco-fodder all the time? Would I really want the exhausting tedium of ill-informed journalists asking the same stupid questions ad nauseam?
Of course I bloomin' well would!!