Are you watching a lot of Netlfix? Because I am. And not just now, but before the lockdown as well. I don’t care much for regular tv, so when I want to chill out for a bit, I put on a series or a movie. No ads, perfect. I liked to be immersed in what I’m watching so suspension of disbelief is important. And even the tiniest bit can throw me off.
And here comes my dilemma. I’m an author now and I see things in series and movies that feel weird to me. The idea of the author is so often misrepresented in the media. Heck, even in books. As if authors don’t know what being an author is. It’s weird.
Valeria in Valeria
A new Spanish show about a woman, Valeria, who’s struggling to write a book. She doesn’t have a job and rejects a job offer because her deadline for the book is only one week away. And she’s got nothing. In a sad attempt to get book ideas from her friends, she pitches a new idea, but they don’t like it. How can you sell a book without a story and zero words on paper? She isn’t famous and the book is sold as a fiction book. The only books I know that sell to a publisher without content on paper are those kinds of books.
Maybe it works differently in Spain, maybe it doesn’t. But it’s still strange. I know that a writer on a deadline is an interesting story hook for potential drama, but it just doesn’t work like that. Most agents only take on fully finished manuscripts and try to sell them to editors. Especially if you’re a new author. Valeria is a new author.
Another thing that bothered me was the starving artist trope. Her husband loses his photography job, and she’s a writer. She thinks she doesn’t need a job. But the majority of the books coming out this year can’t support an author writing full time. The majority of the writers published today still have a day job, or multiple other jobs, income sources to pay for their passion. The times are long when and advance could pay your bills for the time it took you to write a book.
I only watched one episode and I’m not sure if I want to watch more of it. I feel like I’m going get more frustrated than relaxed watching it.
The publishing industry in Romance Is A Bonus Book
I watched this Korean romance series when it just came out. It’s a typical Korean show but I thought the publishing setting would be interesting. And it was. It taught me some things I didn’t know, but there are also things which are wildly exaggerated. Like the process of a finished draft to the shelves of a book store on costing two or three months. It is one of the first time you see what happens besides the editing and acquisition. I like you see the meetings about covers, and new marketing ideas. But it’s so hard to watch if you know the time between these phases is usually much longer than they show. Seriously, the time between acquisition of a book and having it on the shelves takes years through traditional publishing.
Even for an indie, two months to go from finished first draft to published book is a stretch. The only people I know who can do that are well oiled machines and have the infrastructure in place to support their production. Editors are booked months in advance, or are even full time contracted. Covers are made by the series instead of per book. Marketing is run by a virtual assistant, and more. There is so much more to publishing than what you see here, or in movies about the New York publishing scene. Don’t take these for truthful, not even a little. If you want to know more about how it works, please, ask someone who’s had first hand experience with the publishing industry.
Jughead Jones in Riverdale
I’m all caught up the Riverdale series and it took until now that I realised just how unreal the character of Jughead as a writer is. He bases all of his stories on real events. He can only write when he’s inspired. He has no creative well at all, except for the sick and twisted things that happen in Riverdale. Being a writer is so much more than just picking an interesting story from someone else and making it your own. You can’t just take their experience and put your own layer on top of it. That’s what he does. But most of the people who’s stories he uses are close friends and often he’s involved as well.
But not all authors stick to those kinds of stories. I see it more and more than people are pulling other people’s stories towards them and getting published. Even when it’s not their place to tell that kind of story. If you want to publish fiction about a Mexican immigrant fleeing from Mexico and trying to build a live in America, there are dozens of people who could write an authentic story based on events they’ve experienced themselves. Why do you choose to publish a white author’s take, a book filled with wrong stereotypes, and market it like it’s the best book in the world? This one is on the publishing industry.
I don’t like that Jughead is an inspiration writer. He finds his muse and suddenly he cranks out a whole story in three days. Then nothing for months. No, writing is something you do only when you’re inspired. It’s writing when you don’t feel inspired. 90% of the writing process is hard work. If you want writing to be your main source of income (which is where the Jughead character is leaning towards), you can’t wait for inspiration to come. You can’t wait for something bad to happen to your friends before you can take their story. You have to build your own creative well and start building discipline.
These misrepresentations are influencing how people see the writing profession. Writer’s block is so often used in movies and series, even when most of us can’t even afford that (I don’t believe in it anyway). But still, everyone *knows* all authors have or had writer’s block. None us need day jobs just to support our dreams. Advances are more than enough to pay the bills at least a year. Selling a book is easier than writing it.
No. I honestly wish I could find one movie or series that puts a positive spin on the writing career. If you know of one, please share it in the comments. Because I’m desperate for some good author stories.