Friday, 26 April 2013

The Crux of the Matter

Paul Magrs

A wonderful open letter by the 'distinguished' Paul Magrs on the worth of a book:

You write: “It would be especially helpful if we could define exactly how successful [The Creative Writing Coursebook] has been by specifying numbers of sales. If you don’t know the details of sales to date might you be able to ask your publisher?”

I might. I might be able to find out by asking them. I might even be able to look up one of my own royalty statements. I might be able to find out - purely in terms of sales - how “successful” that book has been.

But I won’t.

You see, I don’t think that’s where that book’s success is to be found. Or any book’s.

Not in sales.

Nor in distinction by prizes or third-hand repute or by any of the measures imposed by, on the one hand, your shitty middlebrow literary culture or, the other, your titting assessment exercises.

I had more than enough of your bullet-pointed lists and your grids and graphs when I was still working in academia. I didn’t get my head round them then - when I was still salaried - and I certainly won’t now, when I’m outside that world and getting along as best as I can, just trying to write on the time that I have bought for myself.

I don’t think your measures are any good at all. Your impact and your sales and your bogus respect.

The whole thing is well worth a read. Turns out the person who sent the original request was the Professor of Creative Writing! Tut, tut.

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