Friday, November 12, 2010

The Magical Writing Machine

My friend Rebecca, who writes for New York Magazine, sent me this article about James Frey (yes, the guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces and got slammed by Oprah).

If you want to keep reading this post, I suggest you read the article first because I'm not in the mood to summarize today. According to my NaNoWriMo stats, at the rate I'm going, I won't finish my novel until....JANUARY. This makes me giggle a little. But it also occasionally fills me with dread (though as Husband pointed out, that's still a pretty short time to write a first draft, which is true but entirely beside the point.).

In short: there shall be no summarizing! Only long, apparently meaningless digressions.

Getting back to the point at hand, it seems that Frey has created a bit of a Magical Writing Machine. I imagine him in Victorian dress, peddling his monstrous creation on the dirty streets of London.Courtesy of Wellcome Images via The Quack Doctor (worth a click to check out this blog of "Historical Remedies for All Your Ills")

I imagine Frey would say something like this, "Step write up! See what my machine can do! Just add one high profile 'writer' (ME) with plenty of marketable ideas, toss in a few actually talented writers with no platform who are desperate to make it big and are tired of burning old manuscripts to heat their one room apartments, season with some marketing bigwigs who prioritize crucial story elements like needing a brand similar to Harry Potter's lightning bolt....and then just press this button. Walaa you have a bestselling book with a movie deal directed by Michael I-Blow-Shit-Up Bay."

And then he'd play with his suspicious Victorian mustache and wiggle his eyebrows and go count his money.

I'm just not sure about this. I guess it's not entirely shocking that factories like this could develop. It's up to the public to decide whether or not they have value. But it definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And so much for intellectual property. Those writers who sign with him (especially the ones who write under a pen name like Pittacus Lore) can easily be brushed aside, replaced, and silenced. It's just weird, almost as if the authors are banking on either making it big or, barring that, causing huge controversy by doing a tell-all on Frey, which will in turn get them a new book deal. It's all so flashy trashy.

Side note: I won a "signed" copy of I Am Number Four at BEA this year, which was not actually signed by the author--although in this case, the "author" is tenuous. Would Frey sign? Hughes, the supposed author? Let's be honest here though, some poor editorial or marketing assistant was probably the one signing these books. I was disgusted by the idea of winning a book signed with a pen name. Come. On. Pretty obnoxious, in my opinion.

Anyone else have opinions on this? Are you ready to step up and buy that magical elixir that cures everything and is made of sewage runoff?

Perhaps most disturbing of all: Will you even know the difference??

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