People react in two different
ways when they discover that I write novels for a living. They
either accept the news or reject it. What I like to hear is:
"Where can I buy your books?" I tell them to go to
my website at markacarter.com;
which, of course, is where you are right now. I also tell them
that my books are available at Amazon
world wide. And they
are happy with that. They are usually professionals in their
fields and treat me like the professional I am in my own. I suppose
it takes one to appreciate one. And, for the most part, they
have been accepting, generous, and kind. Thanks. There are always
exceptions, though. The first question of a noted surgeon in
my area, after asking me what I did for a living, to which I
replied, "I write novels," was to ask incredulously,
"Do you make money at that?" So, I guess he should
actually be included in the next category.
People who reject the notion
of me as a novelist come in five
flavors all of them abnormal. I could talk at length about their
psychopathology, but that
is another story. Instead, let me give you typical examples of
their odd demeanors aimed at discrediting me, devaluing the craft,
smothering me with sycophantic flattery,
and otherwise just being out there in
Cloudcuckooland, to coin a term from
The Birds by Aristophanes.
The first rude
thing that people say when they find out that I write novels
for a living instead of doing something mundane like lifting
front end struts in a car factory, which I have done, by the
way, is utter the question: "Are you published?" It's
a fantastic put down, isn't it? I don't ask them if they really
do what they say they do. Of course, I'm not arrogant enough
to say something that arrogant, diminishing, and judgmental.
And I guess that certain surgeon's incredulous question goes
here too. I hate to discuss money matters since it is essentially
none of your business, but let me take a moment to explain, in
simple terms, how my business works. I write. You buy. Publisher
prints. I get paid a royalty for each
"copy" that is printed. Notice I said
"copy." It's the way the film and the music
industry works too. You the consumer purchases, rents, or views
a "copy" of the
original work. Think about it. That could be a lot of
copies in hardcover, paperback,
ebook, and in translation, and there are a lot of languages.
Plus, in addition to the royalties
we already garner from every copy of every original work
we create, if Hollywood
wants to make a film based on one of my novels or stories, they
pay handsomely for the rights.
And so it goes.
Yep, ah ha, moving on ...
The second rude thing that people
do is ask, "What kind of books do you write?" It's
a set up question by people who, for the most part, don't have
a clue about literary genres,
and I would guess struggle to speak the one language they have
spoken all their lives: bad English. They exist in the
amateurville ozone of the
delusional critic whose disingenuous
and insignificant criterion
amounts to "I like it,
I don't like it." My new banker asked me the aforementioned
question and when I answered, "Science Fiction," she
crinkled her nose in disdain, and said, "I don't like Science
is becoming Science Fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible
literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century."
- J.G. Ballard
There was no point explaining
to her that she is a century behind
I should have said:
smut. That little word would have intrigued, shocked,
and titillated her. Most likely
it would have shut her up
while thoughts of sugar plums danced
in her head. And I would have preferred her that way.
Silentium est Aureum.
The third thing that bugs me
is people who couldn't write their way out of a paper bag if
their lives depended on it, who, when they find out I'm a novelist,
have the arrogance to say, "Oh, I should write a novel too,"
as if writing novels is the easiest thing in the world, and anybody
can do it. My disingenuous
sister, who always has been as stupid
as a stump, actually had the gall to say that to me
back in the day. What planet are these people from? They
assume my novels are all about me, so theirs would naturally
be about them. And, of course, that's got to be easy. No. Writing
a novel is not easy. It's complicated on several different levels,
if done well. It requires education, orchestration, organization,
and perseverance to name a few things. And oh, by the way, that
story about yourself is autobiography not novel.
Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary
defines the novel as:
|A fictional prose
narrative of considerable length, relating a series of events
or circumstances in a self-consistent sequence incorporating
some overall pattern or plot, and usually displaying the thoughts
and sensations as well as the acts of the characters.
Most people are hard pressed
to string three correct sentences together let alone to write
one typed page or roughly 300
words. And they are literally dreaming about writing anything
of novel length. By the way, Hephzibah
of Heaven, my first romance, is
132,000 words long. Just so you know. So, knock yourself
out. Don't merely talk about it. Talk is cheap. Do it. Write
your novel. The following is a word count guideline to assist
40,000 words and up
17,500 to 40,000 words
7,500 to 17,500 words
7,500 words or less
Agents and publishers have specific
word count ranges and requirements beyond these general definitions.
Always check the submissions page and write for the requirement.
|The fourth thing
that people say when they find out that I write novels is: "I
have to read your books." They also say, "Oh, I have
to go on your web site." And I just smile at them because
I don't believe them. I'm not twisting their arm to read my books
or to go on my web site where you are now. And true to form,
most of them never read my books or go on my web site. I have
had to read a lot of books in my time at university. Those books
were actual required course reading. But I despised reading the
stuff, went out of my way
to read anything but those books, and never said, "I have
to read those books." When people say it, I know they are
being disingenuous. In other
words, they are lying, and are too ignorant and stupid to realize
how transparent they are. Plus, I can check to see whether they
actually buy my books or not. Oops.
The Sol System, Kuiper Belt, and Oort Cloud
But the fifth thing that people
utter, and the line that bugs me
the most when they discover that I write novels, and surely assumes
that I must read minds, is: "Would you have written anything
I have read?" Now, if that isn't putting the cart before
the horse, I don't know what is. Cause
and effect are effect and
cause in the mental microcosms
of these ignorant and snotty people.
How the Hell would I know what they have read, or whether
they can even read? Reading, especially reading out loud, is
a dying skill, as is common sense. The minds of these people
are truly out there like Pluto
and its cousins in the Kuiper Belt
and the Oort Cloud.
Stupidity is a big
turn off no matter how physically beautiful and rich
you are. So, do writers all over the world a favor and just
shut up. Why should we respect you or any of the
claptrap you have to utter when you don't respect us?
Stick to your gossip, your cocktail
parties, and the drivel of your
bad English and technical
nomenclature. You couldn't speak good
English if your life depended on it. You definitely can't
write it. And you have not earned the right to criticize it
nor do you know how. Leave the creation of literature
to the educated and the imaginative professionals. We are the
only people willing to take the hard road, to peer beneath the
delusion of reality, to
bare our souls, and to shed blood and transform it into
Do what consumers do best. Consume.
Buy a ticket or rent a DVD,
sit back with your beverage and your popcorn, and enjoy the
censored, homogenized and
truncated two hour movie, based on the novel that took
a writer several years to create. There's no need to think. Just
enjoy the pretty pictures. Ooh ...
aah. Cha.... ching.