Overnight success! Hooray! Last night Someone wrote a book, got an agent, snagged a super awesome 15-book deal, published the first installment, and – of course – rocketed to superstardom before you finished your nighttime respite. Good job, Someone!
Think of Someone’s success in concentric rings with Someone in the center. Each ring is the success leaking outward to others, and every ring is one more level removed from the center. Consider yourself on the 100,000,000th ring from center.
One day you’re drinking your morning caffeinated beverage of choice, contemplating the deep things of life, when – BLAM! – Someone has sold a quadrillion books. You’ve never heard of this “Someone”. Who are they, anyway? What right do they have to be on the front page of every digital news source in the world? Who told them they could write a book? Writing a book is your thing. That’s okay, you think, only hack writers and rich hack writers sell that fast. But who told them they could sell a quadrillion copies? There aren’t even a quadrillion people on earth, so, obviously, Someone’s monkeying with the numbers! You are outraged and righteously so.
You decide to read the manuscript – everything that isn’t your book is a manuscript, little m. You hate the thought of buying it and feeding the machine that literature – little l – has become. But you hate the thought of discussing it with a librarian even more. So you buy it, but you silently promise yourself to self-flagellate for this dark sin later.
You carry your e-reader – it was meant for this type of horrifically pained reading – into your closet, flick on your flashlight, and regard the title page with the same fondness you regard used diapers in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Somehow, you power through page after page, knowing you’re doing your part, knowing you’re preparing yourself to defend against the drivel that literature – little l – has become.
fairly absolutely certain that comma is misplaced. Characterization, meh. Plotting? More like plodding. You crack yourself up. Setting, been there. Story arc, done that. This book, you find, isn’t even worth the t-shirt.
When you’ve finished, you sigh the stale closet air of a battle well-fought. You stood up to the powers that would sully the great institution that Literature – big L – should be. You ritualistically burn the manuscript – little m. Only after you awaken in the hospital with burns and smoke inhalation do you realize you’ll need to buy a new e-reader for future horrifically pained reading. At least you have the battle scars to show folks when they ask, “Hey, have you read that thing by Someone who sold a quadrillion copies?” And you’ll be like, “Yeah, man, I read it and this,” you’ll point to your face very dramatically, “is what happened. You’ve been warned.”