One of the tags I use to search blogs on WordPress is “Writing Advice.” I’m always interested in learning tips and tricks from other writers, famous or not, published or unpublished. That advice doesn’t even have to be about writing; just today, I read some pretty amazing life advice from William Faulkner. His advice on reading – “Read, read, read. Read everything —trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – is my favorite bit of advice from the legendary Southern writer.
I saw these words of wisdom from Dex Raven’s blog * today, courtesy of James Patterson:
Sorry, but reading these words of wisdom from James Patterson is like getting healthy cooking tips from Paula Deen. Because James Patterson is the most dishonest writer living today. Reading advice from him simply made my stomach turn. Ugh.
James Patterson turned the art of outlining into a multi-million dollar industry. Read that again: outlining. Not writing. Outlining. He outlines the living shit out of his books, passes them off to his loyal cadre of writers who live off his fortune, makes a few edits here and there, and, voila! Another Alex Cross novel! The 14th this year!
Look, I’m not going to begrudge a writer who’s made a fortune from their writing. I happen to admire both J.K. Rowling and Stephen King as writers, because they respect the craft – anyone who’s ever read King’s On Writing knows the man takes his craft very seriously. I have ZERO respect for James Patterson; he’s made a mockery out of the process of writing. He doesn’t seem like the kind of writer who sweats over every word. Hardly. Just read this rather nauseating and fawning profile from the Wall Street Journal to get a glimpse into Patterson’s arrogance. Worse, he’s claimed in previous interviews that “I love One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I’m a big fan of James Joyce.”
Okay, call me an idealist, but as a big fan of One Hundred Years of Solitude, I would be inspired to write something along the lines of such a work. My love for James Joyce would not lead me to write paint-by-numbers pulpy thrillers you can read on a long bus ride, then pitch in the trash once you’re done. Hearing that kind of unaware bullshit is like reading Michael Bay claim his Transformers films are an homage to Sergei Eisenstein. He hasn’t, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
See, the truly hypocritical really have zero idea just how full of shit they truly sound. Mitt Romney could explain that to you, if he had a fucking clue. Patterson’s a smug prick who checks his bank account every morning and thinks, for a nanosecond, about struggling writers like me and you and smirks. Suckers. And then he plays golf for the rest of the day.
If I want advice on how to create a multi-million dollar publishing enterprise, I’ll ask James Patterson. If I want advice on whether I should use the first or third-person narrative, I’ll ask a real author.
Call me jealous. I’m not. Fuck him. Fuck his books. And fuck his advice.
* By the way, Dex, I’m not singling you out here. I totally understood your ambivalence regarding James Patterson’s advice. I read that piece of advice, and just went apeshit, as you can see from above. So, thank you?