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Posts Tagged ‘Lynn Shepard’

I planned to avoid the kerfuffle around Lynn Shepard’s call for JK Rowling to stop writing, because the idea that Rowling should quit for the good of other writers is flat-out ridiculous. The sensible approach to scarcity isn’t to fight over the last tiny slice; instead, make the pie bigger. Rowling has certainly done that.

Mark Pryor’s article says most of what I was thinking about Lynn Shepard’s essay, and I was glad to see it come out. Here he is on Rowling: “…authors like you actually bring more readers to our books. More books from you means more readers for us, not fewer.”

I do disagree with a point at the end of Pryor’s article, however. The part where the author says that writers don’t write to make money is an old excuse to explain away economic marginalization: “…writers don’t sit down and write books to make money… We write because we love to share our stories.”

It has been said before but bears repeating: Doctors don’t examine you out of the love of anatomy, plumbers don’t fix your pipes for free. Professional writers are, or should be, the same. Yes, most people can “write” in the broad sense of the word, but very few can do it at professional levels. It’s like dismissing an Olympic sprinter because “anyone can run.”

“…this is the sort of thinking, intentional or otherwise, that gives bad people cover to screw writers with regard to money, and gives uncertain writers a reason to shrug off being screwed.”
John Scalzi

Writers have a lot of motivations, and the pleasure of being read is certainly one. But we also write because (we hope) it pays the bills, because it’s less physically demanding than ditch digging, or because we have something to say. We write to entertain, to connect with other human beings, to understand the world and to communicate what we see. We write to make sense of a problem or an emotion and to pass that knowledge along. We write to provide adventure or mystery or humor or a place of refuge. If we do it well (and that’s what we’re all striving for, is it not?), we give to the reader, not the other way around.

And Ms Rowling does it well.

 

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