Do you have hidden treasure in your home? No, don’t go digging up the floorboards or searching the attic or basement. The “treasure” I’m talking about isn’t stacks of old coins or paper money, squirreled away by a curmudgeon who didn’t trust banks after 1929.
Would you go into your neighborhood supermarket and purloin a bunch of bananas? Would you head to the clothing store and swipe a pair of pants? Unless you’re like a certain fellow I once knew—okay, lived with, but when I learned his true colors I kicked him out—you’re no shoplifter. You may not like or be comfortable with parting with your money, but you recognize that the grower of a comestible or the manufacturer of a wearable, as well as the retailer who sells it to the end customer, is entitled to compensation for his or her labor.
I have a friend who’s a “booksale hound.” Whenever there’s a booksale within reasonable driving distance of her home—and she considers well over an hour “reasonable driving distance”—she’s there.
When I was a kid and got sick—chicken pox, measles, or what my doctor termed “Virus X”—I took the opportunity to read as much as I could. “Real” books, comic books—I devoured them all.
They were the bane of teachers’ existence, and many parents frowned on them too. I’m talking about comic books, “back in the day”—specifically, back in my childhood.
The genre known as “manga” didn’t exist then. There were two types of comic books only: funny and adventure. There was Archie, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Little Lulu, Henry, Casper, the Friendly Ghost, and such, and there was Superman, Batman, and others I can’t call to mind because I didn’t read them; I read only the funny ones.
You have no authorial ambitions, no desire to write books, articles, or anything remotely “literary.” You’re not interested in a career in PR, either. So you probably think you have no need to be a good writer. Right?
They say that “Everyone has a story in them.” I don’t know that I necessarily believe that EVERYONE does, but surely MANY people do. For some, it’s a novel that they have an idea for. For others, it’s their memoirs. Still others have a nonfiction idea—a how-to, an inspirational or motivational message, or the biography of a person they admire. The problem arises when the individual realizes that he or she may have a great idea for a book, but they lack the writing skills to turn that idea into a well-crafted, well-honed piece of writing.
I’m not putting the knock on novels. I’ve written a few myself. But why do so many people—authors and readers alike—treat nonfiction and its writers like the ugly stepsister?
For too many readers, nonfiction is what you buy when you need information on a particular topic. Novels are what you buy when you want to enjoy yourself. and relax.
As has been pointed out in song some time ago, “The times, they are a-changing.” Before the feminist movement, it was automatic for someone to write “he” when referring to a person of non-specific gender. That person might as easily be a woman (or girl), but as long as it wasn’t a definite reference to a female, “he” was the way to go.
I was talking to a fellow writer recently. We were debating the merits of a novel he proposed to write—a prequel to one he’d already written. He thought to base the female protagonist on one or the other, or a combination of both, of two women he had known well in the past. He knew their backstories well and had the idea to fictionalize their (similar) stories.