Everyone’s a critic

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 Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished.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.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Everyone’s a critic

  1. ACF

    “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.”

    Brings to mind that Monty Python skit about the young man who breaks his father’s heart when he announces he doesn’t want to be a playwright like his old man but a coal miner instead. His father rebukes him thus:

    What do you know about it? What do you know about getting up at five o’clock in t’morning to fly to Paris… back at the Old Vic for drinks at twelve, sweating the day through press interviews, television interviews and getting back here at ten to wrestle with the problem of a homosexual nymphomaniac drug-addict involved in the ritual murder of a well known Scottish footballer. That’s a full working day, lad, and don’t you forget it!

  2. Hiram

    The jerk’s name is spelled “Egan.”

  3. christopherfountain

    Thank you – I’d hate to give credit to the wrong man.

  4. Anonymous

    Tim Egan is a posterboy for the elistist liberal class….he just doesn’t get how anyone other than those in his circle can get a book deal