The Internet is Dangerous for New Writers

Some people seem to start writing with the express idea of getting published, and believe this can happen rapidly – in a year or so. However, especially with so many instant possibilities for apparent world-wide publication via the Internet,  these keen new writers are very vulnerable, prey to a massive industry of fee-charging   ‘editorial help’.  Many  erstwhile writers prefer to pay than develop their own skills, taking the one short-cut that is guaranteed to defer rather than hasten the achievement of their goal, whilst also destroying any talent they might otherwise have developed.

When a writer is ready to be published, it tends to happen in some way or other – but there are no short-cuts, especially and particularly by paying money to other people. Paying to be published isn’t being published – not really – like musicians paying to play or be featured (you can read the exact same arguments from website owners who make money out of this as you will from vanity publishers and the fee-collecting ‘editors’), or artists with rich parents/husbands, buying gallery space…   In the meantime, write for its own sake,  honing your ideas and self-expression, and forget about ‘being published’.

Here’s somebody else saying the same thing – only better (obviously):

“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance–that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is to be–curiosity–to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does, and if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got it or not.”                                                              – William Faulkner

Faulkner also said, in an  interview in The Paris review:

“Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.”

Incredibly (to me) many  fee-collecting editors (some call themselves “book doctors”) offering advice to would-be authors are not published themselves, nor have they worked for mainstream publishers. This self or ‘vanity’ publishing is another world, and one which serious writers should take care to avoid.

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