Poor Little Misguided Thing

I am a member of a writer’s forum that is quite innovative and totally motivating. It provides me with the company of like-minded writers, people who actually write for pay rather than the horde of wanna-be’s that infest more generalized boards.

So it came as a bit of a surprise that a new member appeared and started posting how she wanted to write a book.

It wasn’t so much her desire – I can’t fault one for wanting to write – but the WAY she went about expressing this desire, coupled with a few other things she mentioned and the way she responded to various messages from the members, brought me to the conclusion that this lady is delusional.

As an example: she was explaining how she still hadn’t found a topic to write about for her book. She quoted U2’s song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (from The Joshua Tree) as “I still found what I’m looking for”.

Hell was unleashed when I pointed out her quoting error.

Here’s a few of the messages she wrote that led up to WWIII …

I’ve been mulling this over for some time now, and I’ve decided that I’d like to write a book. So far so good… My problem is that I wouldn’t know where/how to start. I don’t even have an idea of the type of book I want to write. I just know I want to write one. Now, I appreciate that this post is at best, vague, but if any of my fellow members) can give me an advice/help/suggestions/slap around the face with a wet fish then I would be grateful.

Wow – way to impress your audience right out of the gate. And remember that “slap” remark – it comes to bear later.

This reply came from the owner of the site, a published author:

I don’t want to throw cold water on a warm idea… but I think you’ll need a bit more motivation than “I feel like it”. Writing a book – especially a fiction book – is a LOT of work, even when you’ve got what you think is an awesome idea. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying that your best bet for the moment might be to do as (a member) suggested: keep notes, jot things down, gather ideas. Once you hit on the thing you want to do, you’ll know it and it’ll start to form – then you can start writing.

But she wasn’t happy with this early – and quite logical – reply; she had to worry this topic like a dog with a juicy T-bone. She was out for justification, critics (and people merely trying to be helpful) be damned!

She went on to perfunctorily thank the owner, as well as two other members who agreed with him, then posted this gem:

I haven’t written fiction for years, but when I was at school I wrote a lot of stories and the teachers were always blown away by them. I even remember back as far as being in Brownies – I wrote a poem for my Writers badge – and Brown Owl took me to one side and asked me if I’d copied it from somewhere else.

Yeah, good ol’ Brown Owl – I’m still working on getting through his body of work; VERY famous author.

Call me cynical, but somehow I don’t see the connection between earning a Merit Badge and actually writing and publishing a book. Merit Badges are like reputation points on a forum: they make you feel good when you get one, but when you grow up you realize they don’t mean a blessed thing.

Hang around – the party is just starting.

She goes on …

… it’s kind of a ‘need’ in me – I can’t be any more specific than that. I figure I’ve got one book in me, at least …

Personally I think she’s filled with much more than “need”, but we’ll let that slide for now.

And then, the gem that caused my little brain-to-finger editor to go on vacation:

I do like the idea of a book of ‘something’ on a specific theme, rather than a 300 page novel. I feel like I just need that ‘spark’ of an idea, and I’ll be off and running. But, in the words of U2, I still found what I’m looking for.

Wow – I am SO glad you want to write a book on “something”. I think that’s what the world really needs.

Look … with the advent of self-publishing anyone can write and publish a book. You can go with the POD (Publish On Demand) system that is offered by many online houses, including Google, Cafe Press and others where you submit a manuscript, they edit it (usually at extra cost) and then print out as many as you want.

In fact, there’s even a machine that you can pretty much stick in your pages and your money and out pops a book!

Well … not really. The book has to already be in the computer, which in turn means utilizing the traditional practice of submitting a manuscript to whatever publisher you’re using (the machine pictured here is used by Google).

Basically it’s a POD machine, meant to be used by a publisher, but in the near future it’s entirely possible that you could become an instant author while waiting for your Triple BypassBurger at Mickey D’s.

But I’m sure our little scribe doesn’t know that.

The funny thing is, I never wanted to write a book until AFTER I started writing for Helium a couple of years ago.

NOW I understand! Here’s a lady who writes for a content mill and thinks that qualifies her to write a book. She’s got the attention span of a hummingbird, having banged out fluff articles for so long, and thinks that translates out to the time, effort and PAIN involved in publishing a book.

Once again she hoists herself on her own petard:

I don’t think I’m suited to a great tome of work, my style of writing tends to be short and sharp, and I like to inject humour wherever possible. I’m not one for lots of descriptive, ‘flowery’ stuff.

This is becoming uncomfortable to watch – like being witness to an impending train-wreck. Somebody had to save this hapless victim-to-be from herself. No one else was forthcoming, so I bravely stepped up:

One of the first things you might want to do, before you write this book, is to learn the art of quoting properly …Forgive my bluntness, but you’re giving all the wrong answers in all the wrong ways. Perhaps everyone here is too nice to say it plainly, but you don’t sound like you’re ready to write a book. Maybe there are other, hidden qualities that you have that will prove me wrong, and I truly hope for your sake there are, but I just don’t see them yet.

Ooh, yeah, Phil – way to finesse the ladies! I’m SURE she’s swooning as we speak!

sigh … People bring this on themselves. As my patron saint Dr. Hannibal Lecter once said, he “prefers to eat the free-range rude”. I guess I’m dinner.

But c’mon – who could resist the bait here? That worm looked soooo juicy and shiny, dancing in front of my eyes. I ask again – WHO could resist? Not me.

Her last reply … sadly, it was her death knell …

I’m fully aware of how to quote properly, thanks. And I thought you were extremely rude. Not blunt. Rude. I didn’t join this forum to be personally attacked.

Wow. Just … wow. I couldn’t resist – I chomped down on that worm as if I hadn’t eaten in weeks. First, the softening-up process:

If you purposely misquoted to appear clever, then the sentence structure leading up to the punchline was poorly constructed. Otherwise, I stand by my assertion that you misquoted.

… and then I delivered the swift killing blow –

If you think THAT was bad, what will you do when your editors, publishers, reviewers and reading public have at you with both barrels?

“Personal attack”? “Rude”??? If I wanted to be rude and personally attack you, I think I would have crafted my reply a bit differently; perhaps something along the lines of:

Listen, dumb-bunny: there are two things you need to know right now – you’re more out-of-touch than a virgin in a rural Catholic school, and the world always needs more ditch-diggers. Maybe then you could bury that putrid pile of puss you call a book without soiling yourself.

Don’t annoy the dancing bear. Ever.

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