by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Over the years, when I've been introduced as a writer in a social setting, people mostly look at me with interest and want to know about the process: how I come up with my ideas, how do I keep all my facts straight, how do I handle research, etc. You know, legitimate and intelligent questions asked with sincerity.
But like many of my fellow criminal minders, I've also been asked to ghost write other people's ideas (aka do all the work but split profits). I've been cautioned about stealing ideas (usually really bad ideas that will probably never be put to paper). I've been looked at with scorn and told, "Yeah, so is everyone else these days." Which does to seem be true when you look at the glut of cheap and not very professional novels out there.
BUT the one comment that kills me the most (and I've heard it several times) is when a wannabe tells me they have an idea for a book/series "just like yours, only better." This person will then go on to tell me what is wrong with my books, why theirs is better, and how they will make a crap load more money ... once they write it, that is.
Okay, Jughead, then instead of standing here boring and insulting me, go freaking write it.
But they never will.
Wanna know why?
Because they are as lazy as they are rude and ignorant.
I can tell you from experience that writing is not a quick and easy endeavor. It sucks up your life and saps your physical and mental energy with little monetary reward. It's something you have to WANT to do - be COMMITTED to doing - no matter what the pay or the sacrifice. Many say they want to be writers, but few will accomplish it, and it will have nothing to do with not being able to find an agent or a publisher. It will have mostly to do with them not ever sitting down and putting their ideas to paper. And of those thousands of new writers flooding the market right now, a very small percentage of them will ever write a second book, and an even smaller percentage will ever write a third. They will simply fade away, daunted by the task and the work ahead of them, or disillusioned by the outcome.
Writers write. We don't yammer about it in that some day dream mode. We don't brag about what we're going to do. We put our energy on the page, not into a black hole of bluster.
We sit and type. We ponder and plot.
We curse and gnash our teeth.
I'll say it again: We write.
So to those of you who say your some day books are better than my numerous finished books, I say, with a wide grin: Be my guest.
In spite of the above, I want to end this post with one of my favorite and fun personal stories: Earlier this year I was at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles waiting for a play to begin. I got there early and was reading a book when two ladies about my age and seated to my right asked about the book I was reading and what I did for a living. You know, social chit chat. I answered and mentioned I was a novelist.
First lady: "Would we have heard of you?"
Second lady, with a slight smirk: "Probably not."
First lady: "What is your name?"
Me: "Sue Ann Jaffarian."
First lady with a gasp: "We just read one of your ghost books in book club!"
Me with excitement: "Why, thank you!"
Second lady: "Will you take a photo with us?"
Me: "My pleasure."