W is for Writers

I was going to take the easy way out and write about ‘writing’. Well, that is what this A to Z series is all about, isn’t it? Not being one to take the easy way out, I’ve decided to write not about writing, but about writers. And to narrow the field down further, this rant is going to be about other writers.

Other writers. We hate them, don’t we?

There is nothing new in our dislike of our adversaries other writers, as these quotes show.

Gustave Flaubert called George Sand “(a) great cow full of ink.” Charming. How about H. G. Wells’s opinion of George Bernard Shaw: “An idiot child screaming in a hospital.” If you think that’s bad, it pales into insignificance compared to the spat between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Faulkner said the Hemingway had “never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” But don’t feel too sorry for Hemingway who wondered whether his opponent really thought that “...big emotions come from big words?”
At least poets would be nicer to each other, wouldn’t they? WRONG! “I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.” W. H. Auden; what a bitch.

Writers are still at it. Take what Harold Bloom said of the Harry Potter author.

“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

And while we’re on the subject of J. K. Rowling, let’s look at how much other writers earn.

James Patterson earned $94 million dollars in 2011, Stephen King made $39 million, Dean Koontz $19 million and good old J. K., five years after her last HP novel, made $17 million. And the rest of us? According to a 2008 survey by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (UK), the average earnings for a writer is £16,531 while the typical writer earned only £4,000. I say ‘only’; in the past twelve months my writing has earned me about £100. Thanks be to the gods of the internet who let me earn a few quid developing web sites.

But money isn’t everything, right? We’d write whether we got paid or not, wouldn’t we? So long as people were reading our work? Well, Rowling is still doing disgustingly well with over 450 million copies sold. Dan Brown’s latest tome sold 228,961 in it’s first week in the UK alone. I have sold under 100 copies of my ebook. Yup. Definitely living the dream here.

It’s not just these spectacularly fabulous but relatively talented authors we hate though. I keep my special wrath for all the useless, talentless hacks out there who self-publish drivel, thus diluting the professionalism of the good self-publishers.

And even worse than these chancers are the useless, talentless hacks who are published traditionally. With an advance on royalties. And an inflated opinion of their meagre talents. Bastards.

It’s enough to make you throw your pen at the wall and drown yourself in gin and despair.

But if I were to post this self-pitying proclamation on my Facebook wall, I know  loads of ‘other writers’ would offer hugs, tell me not to give up, share stories of their rejections and offer all sorts of advice to help.

Meh. Other writers. We hate them.


Nettie Thomson

And The Angels Cried and other stories on Amazon by Annette S Thomson


  1. Hi Nettie! Really enjoyed this post, made me laugh in recognition. Well done on publishing your collection of short stories! I'd like to buy a copy (and so become reader number 100, perhaps ;) ... can I get it even though I have a Sony e-reader? Kindle versions are not compatible unfortunately, but it can read normal PDFs... Thanks! Sara

  2. Hi Sara,

    Thank you so much! I'm afraid my book is only available for the kindle so far, but I am happy to send you a PDF in exchange for an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads?

    If you're interested, email me on nettie(at)nettiethomson(dot)com



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