Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The right to write


Who has the right to write? All of us, I guess. But when the cult of celebrity takes over and breaks into the popular fiction market, there are many writers among us who get the hackles up at this brazen move.

I’m referring to the ever-growing list of A to Z list slebs who feel the need to pen some kind of popular fiction novel. I absolutely love The Hills for light entertainment, but now that the show’s reality star Lauren Conrad has penned a novel or three, it’s made me somewhat queasy. I read an excerpt from her book and I’m not even going to share my views on its merits or lack of. Put it like this – if I was an agent’s assistant, it would be straight into the recycling basket. But readers who have ploughed their way through the first in the series, 'LA Candy' have eagerly reviewed it on websites including Amazon. “OMG, this is brilliant!!” said one. Another reviewer thought it was (alarmingly) ‘well-written.’ Apparently Lauren has stressed that she has written them all on her own without a ghost writer in sight. And I would believe that. Reading an excerpt is not good for your health as you may end up with an IQ lower than plankton. It's like...a bit like the dialogue on The Hills...like.

Another so-called ‘writer’ (cough, splutter) is Katie Price. Why bother putting your name to trashy tat which you didn’t write in the first place? I can’t understand that, apart from the financial aspect of course. No shame Katie! Granted not everyone is blessed with a good command of English, but why not do something you’re good at. Stick to modelling/taking your clothes off, or acting. It’s like me claiming to have painted the Mona Lisa when in reality I can only draw stick men. Sorry, but I’ll stick to a hobby I’m genuinely interested in, and one in which I can invest time and effort. According to reports, Katie Price hasn’t even read her own autobiography.

While these sorts of books lack literary merit (don’t clear your mantelpiece for an award love) are we justified in criticising the ‘authors’ for their fluffy tales of romance and adventure which pull in millions of readers? A sort of modern day Enid Blyton (my primary school teacher blew his lid when he caught us reading Enid!) Perhaps they are aimed at readers who otherwise wouldn’t open a book to experience escapism or to enhance grammar and spelling. Co-incidentally, Jamie Oliver and Victoria Beckham claim to never have read a book in their lives. What kind of example does this set to the computer-gaming generation? If you haven’t read a book don’t boast about it! Shut up.

And a final word - please don’t buy me any of this reading material for Christmas. I’m predicting Cheryl Cole will be the next sleb to start penning novels. Let’s see…the story will be about a reality television star who marries a premiership footballer who ends up cheating on her. You read it on Strictly first! I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or scream with jealousy. Seeing these books on shelves may well persuade any hard working author to hang up his or her quill and start stripping instead.

12 comments:

Karen said...

Well alarmingly I read an article here a while back saying Cheryl Cole had been offered £5million to write a series of romantic novels!!!

Note at the bottom is says, She hadn't previously thought of writing, but she's come around to the idea.

Oh well, that's all right then.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Roderic Vincent said...

Such ire, Gillian. I enjoyed that rant.

Neil said...

I pity the ghost-writers. They probably started off in love with the joy of writing, and dreamed that one day they would write something that would reach out and touch peoples' hearts.
Now, for the sake of money, they are reduced to writing twaddle for someone who is fleetingly in the news.
My own writing may never make my fortune, but at least it is MY writing, and I believe in it.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with it (apart from the fact it makes people think anyone can write a book so getting published should be easy!)

I have no problem, cos this books get people reading (fans etc) who otherwise might not read any book.

A friend's daughter loved books considered trashy by her junior school teacher who told her to stop reading them. She didn't read another book for pleasure at home for 2 years.


Sam

Anonymous said...

Or rather 'these' books;)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

It's said that these Sleb books actually generate the money that allow publishers to publish more risky work, such as literary fiction. I'm not sure I'm convinced. Publishers publish what will sell (or the big ones do).
What bothers me is that the lines of girls queuing for a signed novel 'by' Katie Price may get the idea that it's bloody EASY.
Susiex

Gillian McDade said...

Thanks for the comments. Karen - my Cheryl prediction was purely that! Imagine the dialogue:

'Alreet lad? Why aye man?'

'Ya sound like a right Geordie.'

'Me name's not Geordie luv.'

Fionnuala said...

You mean I could get PAID to take my clothes off? Bugger the writing. I'm orf! x

Debs Riccio said...

Much lollin, Gillian - gaw on gal!
I even get irritated if I see a book with a picture from it's 'movie' on the cover cos I feel a little bit cheated (this is weird, no?). And although I didn't want to (somebody recommended it) I did read Sharon Osborne's glittery covered 'Revenge' and could hear her reading it to me - it flew by and it was an easy, bubblegummy read, but I wouldn't buy one by her. I even had a hard time picking up Jeffrey Archer because of his high profile 'sleb' status. Give me a proper writer every time!

Lizzie said...

A timely post.

Fern Brtitton is the Sleb author that really gets me. I was listening to her trilling away about her book to Simon Mayo on my drive home.

She said that her editor came to her house and sat with her at the kitchen table and they wrote the book together. But she's going to be allowed to write her next novel on her own. Bless!

If I could have wrenched the radio from the car I would have thrown it out of the window.

I sometimes think it would be easier to become a Sleb than a published author. Hmm. Maybe that's an idea for a book ...

Lizzie said...

A timely post, Gillian.

Fern Brtitton is the Sleb author that really gets me. I was listening to her trilling away about her book to Simon Mayo on my drive home.

She said that her editor came to her house and sat with her at the kitchen table and they wrote the book together. But she's going to be allowed to write her next novel on her own. Bless!

If I could have wrenched the radio from the car I would have thrown it out of the window.

I sometimes think it would be easier to become a Sleb than a published author. Hmm. Maybe that's an idea for a book ...

Caroline Rance said...

I do feel quite jealous when people get a book deal just for being famous, but on the other hand I'd love to be a ghost writer. I'd have no qualms whatsoever about writing anonymously for cash.