The Injustice of being a Writer

Forgive me if this article sounds like sour grapes.

Allow me to have a little whinge.

There is no justice or fairness in the world of writing. I’ve known this for years. I guess it just reflects the wider world of business and life in general. Life just isn’t fair. When the story of an ordinary cat can jag such a huge publishing contract I have to question why I slave away at writing all day for very little financial return. Here’s an extract of the story that turned my normally pleasant nature into a seething volcanic eruption of… well… I hope you get the picture. I wasn’t a happy camper.

AMONG the great literary figures of our time, few have made as much money as fast as Dewey, the Iowa library cat. To the astonishment of the US literary fraternity, a New York publisher has paid $1.25m for a book about the life of a fluffy orange cat who lived for 19 years in a library.

The happy recipient of what is believed to be a record advance for a book about a pet is Vicki Myron, the librarian who looked after Dewey in Spencer, Iowa.

Publishing executives calculate that the book will need to sell at least 250,000 hardback copies to cover the cost of the advance, but editors at Grand Central Publishing are convinced that Dewey will become a runaway bestseller. “You can’t underestimate the market out there for people who love animals,” said Karen Kosztolnyik, who will edit the book.

Positive spin:

Now that I’m over the sheer injustice of this amazing story, let’s put a positive spin on the situation. If this can happen to the keeper of an ordinary cat, it can happen to anyone. It inspires me to keep writing because I never know when the next story I write or the next blog post I’ll publish could be the big break-through event in my writing career. Every writer could be just one story or one book proposal or one blog post away from an amazing turnaround in fortunes. The publishing world is bristling with stories like this one.

Reality check:

The reality is far different, however, for the vast majority of writers. Most of us will labour away for years on modest incomes – or no income at all. Many writers and bloggers do not do it for the money at all. Their reward comes from the very act of writing, from the joy of creating words and stories that please just themselves or perhaps just a handful of readers. Just like Shrek tried to explain to Donkey that ogres have many layers like an onion, so too the writing life has many layers.


  • Read the whole story here.

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