Off Target and Tangent

So I was wildly offbase with my Pottermore guess. It’s looking to be some sort of real-life treasure hunt mixed with an MMORPG or… something. So basically, Sony, Warner Bros and JK Rowling are trying to get LARPers and WoW gamers to get outside and… game? Odd. But, in a strangely unrelated coincidence, Rowling’s camp is continuously denying that there is no new book in the works. I will continue to campaign that this is nothing but a pack of lies and a smoke screen, and that Rowling is going to write more novels in Potterverse in the future.

What can I say? I’m dedicated.

Anyways, sorry about the lack of updates this week. Busy writers means a lack of non-work related writing. On the plus side, I’m over 50% finished with Wraithkin, so it’s moving in the right direction at last, and my second Sha’Daa story is about 33% of the way done. Still no title for the story. Maybe I should make Rebecca title it…

On the “Jason Pissed Off Someone” track (Episode #1,243,900!), I found out that mocking an English Lit degree while on the subject of publishing only seems to piss off the holder of said degree. Now, in my defense, I’ve mentioned before that if one wants to be a commercially successful writer (which every single English Lit degree holder wants but, due to literati tendencies, will vocally deny), an English Lit degree doesn’t give you much of a leg-up on your competitors. Now, being able to tell the difference between Goethe, Marlowe and Shakespeare is a nice party trick, but if you tried to pitch something like Faust to a publisher today they’d want to know what the selling point was. And your marketing plan. And the demographic you were aiming for.

Many wildly successful writers I know don’t have English degrees. Off the top of my head, I can think of an Accounting degree, a degree in Marine Biology, an ichthyologist, an African History degree, another History degree, a Journalism degree, two with Law degrees… as you can see, only one of them has a degree in any sort of writing, and that person made his wild fortune before he became a fiction author. I’m not saying an English Lit degree is a waste of time, but… well… okay, lemme ‘splain:  J.K. Rowling has a degree in French and Classics, but you could (easily) make the successful argument of Classics over English Lit. Actually, most lovers of the classics (I’m talking The Odyssey, the Illiad, and so on… not Jane Austen) will shank you with well-crafted verses in poetic prose should you compare their studies to an English Lit track.

“But Stephen King has an English Lit degree!” someone might complain. And yes, he does. And how many people have actually read every single word in his books? Most of them are creepy in the “wtf is he thinking?” arena of fiction, and I think that if King had gone to school for a Mechanical Engineering degree he’s be writing novels still with his creepy undertones, except maybe something would happen in one of those books.

No, I’m not picking a fight with Stephen King. That’s like a miniature pinscher chasing after a car and finally catching it: good boy, you caught it… now what’re you going to do with it?

The point I’m making is that most English Lit degree holders like to complain that there is no money in writing. I will regularly point out that this is incorrect, and that the emo approach to publishing is just why most of previously mentioned individuals will never succeed in their writing.

I’m not saying that it is impossible to become a commercially successful author while holding an English degree. I’m not even saying it’s hard. As an English degree holder, you have a solid grasp of sentence structure, how to balance word play, pacing and to paint a vivid picture. These are all tools of a highly-successful author, tools that make editors very, very happy that there is such a thing as the English degree.

I’m certain editors cringe when my manuscripts show up.

But these same people pass over novels written by English majors and Joe the local mechanic’s alike because in the end, they’re going to publish what they think they can sell. You think Twilight would’ve been successful in the 70’s or 80’s? Maybe, maybe not… it’s hard to say. But in the moment, Twilight is successful. Okay, I should have counted Meyer on the English degree holder who is successful. And Laurell K. Hamilton…

…hmm, maybe I should have said that while having an English degree doesn’t always help you get a leg up on the competition, it couldn’t hurt too horribly. You know, most of these authors I list tend to be successful because they find their niche genre and expand into the mainstream.

I still think it’s a waste of money for any college student who drowns themselves in loans in the vain hope of becoming the next Stephanie Meyer.

And that last sentence is why I still cause ulcers in publishers as they’re counting their money.

One thought on “Off Target and Tangent

  1. Hmmmmm, Some of the pub folks I’ve talked to at writers conferences can’t spell degree, though they have one. The problem is there’s no one at the gate to keep the gate keepers out.

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