Fortunately for all of us, my books don’t go directly from my word processor to the bookstore. First, the pages go through the hands of exemplary professionals who tune them, shine them, and prepare them for the light of day.
The above comes almost at the end of the two pages of acknowledgments that one of my favorite thriller novelists, Stephen White, includes at the close of Warning Signs. Given that this guy — a clinical psychologist as well as a New York Times best-selling author so no duffer in the intelligence stakes — recognizes the value of the people who helped him with research, editing, and general feedback, I’m at a loss to understand why Seth Godin continues to perpetuate the unhelpful view that writing a book is a “solo endeavor.”
Well, let me rephrase that, because in reality oftentimes it is, especially in the world of self-publishing. But writing a quality book is never a solo endeavor. Godin may well point out that:
One person with time but no money can produce a first draft that is substantially similar to what the public will end up reading.
And therein lies the issue with so many of the poorly conceived, badly written, never-edited, and barely read c**p that is available online today – novels and nonfiction.
Please!!! Pay no attention to this nonsense. If your first draft looks “substantially similar to what the public will end up reading” you are either a genius or not trying hard enough. With all due respect, I’m going to opt for the latter. Certainly, I would never embarrass myself — after 25 years as a professional writer and internationally published author — or show such disdain for my readers to put out something that too closely resembled my first draft.
I’d rather be influenced by the humility and professionalism of Stephen White, and the many others who echo his sentiments in their own Acknowledgments pages, given that his 19th novel is about to hit the bookstores and the man goes from strength to strength with his writing. More so than Seth Godin who, I swear, would never sell that many books if he wasn’t in what my friend calls the “G2F” market: Guru to Follower. People will buy whatever he churns out because he’s Seth Godin. Much of his writing isn’t that good, in my opinion. It was once, but not any more.
Could it be because Godin takes his own advice and his first draft too closely resembles what he puts out for the rest of us to read?
What do you think?