Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Bearer of Bad Tidings

My wife was recently approached by a high school acquaintance to help her promote a book she had just "published." I have to use quotation marks here because the book was obviously produced at a vanity press. Like so many books of this sort, it is a children's book with autobiographical storyline and inferior artwork.

Now, my wife and I are usually very supportive of people pursuing a dream, especially when it comes to getting a book published, and especially when someone undertakes to do the marketing of the book themselves. Our own experience has taught us that sales and marketing is hard, and most people have a pseudo-snooty attitude about it, like they are somehow above something as lowly and duplicit as selling, even though the entire modern world is driven by it. So we feel a certain moral obligation to help people who do it, especially for a good cause.

So . . . does ones moral obligation to help someone include crushing their hopes? It's obvious to us that this book is doomed. Only this woman's immediate family and friends will ever buy this book, and even they will only read about half-way until they get bored and then skim through the pictures and put it on the shelf, and then put it in a couple yard sales but never sell it, and then finally give it to good will. But how do you tell that to someone to whom you have a slim-yet-still-personal connection?

I'm sure there have been dozens of well-meaning friends who have encouraged and "supported" this woman in her endeavor, or else this book would never have made it this far. But my own philosophic and religious training tells me that this woman would be better served by hearing the truth.


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