A self-styled writer, one Timothy Egen, filled in for Maureen Dowd today by writing a column she could have just as easily written herself entitled, “Typing Without a Clue”. Apparently Joe the Plumber has signed a book deal and Mr. Egen is livid.
The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?
I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate….
Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal….
The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.
As a writer who, like Egen and his friends the marketplace has deemed unworthy of support, I share his pain, but not his resentment at someone else’s good fortune. Life may be unfair, Tim, but you’ve got to admit that whoever’s running it has a fine sense of humor: You and I have to stick to our day jobs, Joe the plumber gets to quit his.
And cheer up, you did get your novel
published – it’s just too bad it sucked. Publisher’s Weekly summarized it as ”scattered, clumsy and over earnest”, which is about how I’d summarize your opinion screed, but you know they wouldn’t have dared say that if you and your friends had the power to decide who gets published and who gets sent back to cleaning septic tanks. Hang in there, fella; there’s bound to be a writing grant waiting for you in Washington come January 20th. Until then, work on that memoir.