Jossiping With Sean Lindsay
Sean Lindsay is the author of the blog 101 Reasons To Stop Writing. It???s inspiring, if you need inspiration to apply to law school. We talk about why bad writers think they???re good, why good writers stop when they turn bad and the missing great Australian novel. Also, he makes fun of our lack of copy-editing skills.
So what's the deal with 101 Reasons To Stop Writing?
If you buy 100 reasons, you get the 101st free.
Writing is an appealing endeavour, especially for people with massive intellectual egos who are too lazy to be successful in other occupations, and too unattractive to make it in showbiz. The spectacular success of some very accessible books, like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code, make it look like writing a bestseller is easy, and any activity that looks easy attracts people with no capacity for self-criticism. But the successful writer must be (some combination of) inventive, articulate, determined, resilient and lucky ??? and most people who try writing have none of these qualities. They follow the sum total of all writing advice, apply their ass to the chair and write one word at a time, then wonder why the publishers don't turn up at their door with a big novelty check.
101 Reasons to Stop Writing is intended as an intervention, a way to help bad writers shed the layers of hubris and denial that cloud their ability to perceive their awfulness. The ability to realise how shit you are is a necessary step in the development, and retirement, of any artist. It's a work in progress, but eventually the blog will form a 101-point checklist. If a writer reads through all 101 reasons and is still determined to continue writing, then I'll have to break into their house and steal all the vowels from their keyboards.
What are your goal (sic) for the site?
I know you're going to edit this before it's posted, but the inaccurate use of the second-person plural present indicative in that sentence ('are' instead of 'is') is a convenient example of the overall goal. If you meant 'goals':
??? Help the 99% of writers who will never be published to realise the futility of their ambitions
??? Help the 1% of writers who are little more than a semicolon above the other 99% to realise their ambitions are probably futile too
Who do you imagine your readers to be?
The ones I know about, and thus don't have to imagine, are mostly unpublished writers, though there are a few published writers (of varying levels of non-success) and some publishing professionals who read regularly. I wasn't expecting such a large professional audience. I've obviously tapped into a wellspring of resentment over the time lost to dealing with the talentless.
The readers I imagine while I'm writing the blog are James Patterson, Dan Brown, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, the screenwriters of Spiderman 3, and the guy who does the text crawl on Fox News.
Not to project, but do you think your readers think that they're better than the people you're discouraging? Is that a problem?
I sincerely hope that my readers are the people I'm discouraging. I'm not sure if I'm discouraging anyone who doesn't read the blog.
Am I bothered by readers who think I'm addressing some other group of writers, the mythical 'everyone worse than me'? Hell yes. They're precisely the people I'm trying to reach. It's a symptom of their massive self-denial. Imagine the tortured ways some of them have to define 'worse' in order to elevate themselves.
It irks me to no end that some readers view the blog as 'inspirational', and get some masochistic pleasure from my invective. They delight in telling me so, too, the bastards. The worst, the very worst, are the ones who think it's an exercise in reverse psychology, that I intend it to be inspirational. They think they're members of some elite club of writers who 'Get it'.
So far, I have only written for myself, since I
realize it doesn't pay to try subscribing to any
others' point of view when my own is so different. Now, as the ultimate critique, I am
seeking a legitimate agent, since such are the
ones who recognize what will sell. Rejections
are the practical correction to my own ego, and
possibly will improve any personal effort toward
public recognition and approval (although I'm not certain I desire that). Well, let's just wait and see if there are enough with similar
tastes to my own, and if not, so what? I'll just
be happy with myself, like all the other crazy
folk! Fritz Lorenz