It’s list time again. This week it’s for everyone thinking that publishing a book will solve your financial, career and self-esteem issues and cause your nearest and dearest to treat you with respect and awe.

The reality is…

  1. Getting published will not write your second novel for you.
  2. Or entice laundry fairies to come live in your house.
  3. It is unlikely to make you rich. Most writers also have real jobs.
  4. Getting published will fill your children with respect and awe until you ask them to clean their rooms.
  5. “When can we have the next one?” is what publishers say directly after “congratulations on your first novel!”
  6. The role of the second novel is to prove that the first one was a fluke.
  7. Being shortlisted for a major award is nice, but unless it is the Booker, none of your friends will notice.
  8. Being shortlisted for a minor award requires attendance at a long ceremony followed by sincere-looking applause for someone else.
  9. If you are lucky enough to be reviewed, it will usually be by the only person you have ever been rude to. The accompanying photo will announce publicly that you could afford to lose a few pounds. (A flattering jacket photo, on the other hand, will inspire people to remark how terrible you look in real life.)
  10. Publishing a novel will not grant you immortality. In the unlikely event that your book survives to the next century you will almost certainly be too dead to care.

Having said that, writing novels is by far the best job I’ve ever had.

Tells you everything you need to know about what I did before (advertising).

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23 thoughts on “Too Dead To Care.

  1. Nicole Burstein 5 years ago

    I think my tutors should hand this out in the very first seminar of the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA. It would set a few people straight…

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Compared to the career you chose, it’s a doddle, Ray.

  2. sharon creech 5 years ago

    Then again, while you *are* here, some of us want to bow down and kiss your toes.

  3. bookwitch 5 years ago

    I’m not kissing any toes!
    (Are you feeling low, Meg?)

  4. Nicky S/Absolute Vanilla 5 years ago

    ah but you see the error you make, Meg, is that writing is not a career, it’s an ailment, with all sorts of horrible side effects and symptoms.

  5. Tabitha Suzuma 5 years ago

    Oh, brilliant post Meg! I particularly identify with nos. 3, 6, 7 & 8!

  6. Tamsyn Murray 5 years ago

    All completely true. I am still waiting for the laundry pixies to show up.

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Don’t suppose you’d lend me one if they do?

  7. Rachel Ward 5 years ago

    So true. Why is it that each book is harder to write? Why doesn’t it get easier??? (Shakes angry fist at sky.)

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      This puzzles me hugely. Maybe our standards get higher? Or the stakes? Or (scariest theory) the brain starts to empty out????

    2. Tabitha Suzuma 5 years ago

      It puzzles me too. Endlessly, when I should be writing. Still haven’t found a definitive answer, but think all three of Meg’s points may be true. O_o

  8. Rebecca Emin 5 years ago

    Absolutely love this list, and giggled my way through it recognising several things there. But honestly, I could weep at number 2. You have shattered all my dreams with that one.

  9. Jane Lovering 5 years ago

    I agree! Writing is the most fantastic career you can imagine – until you start doing it, when even alligator wrestling looks like an easier option.

  10. Kirsten Baron 5 years ago

    I have a laundry fairy. Unfortunately, she’s off to uni in September.

    Other than that, thank you for putting me off writing as I’ve not made time for it recently anyway (I’ve got involved with a Morris side, and it’s taking up almost ALL my spare time). I love the notion of writing, and the ideas, and the beginnings, but after that it’s such hard work – and then all those rejections. I had assumed that it would get better if only the rejections stopped, but I think I’ll just carry on making music instead.

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Your laundry fairy’s not going to uni in London by any chance?

    2. Kirsten Baron 5 years ago

      Nope. London is in commuting distance from my washing machine. She’s off to Leeds.

  11. Di Toft 5 years ago

    Yup, I think that covers just about everything I’m feeling as I struggle with book 4. I thought I’d be good at this by now!

  12. MaryWitzl 5 years ago

    Number 4 stings a bit. What I’m really hoping for is kudos and awestruck admiration from the in-laws, but I’ll bet that’s another pipe dream.

  13. erica 5 years ago

    but, but i was promised a laundry faerie.

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Ha. You and me both.

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