Monday, April 3, 2017

Risks of graphomania; the truth about publishing

For your information and entertainment, we present a scene from the British comedy Peep Show, Season 8, Episode 2: "Business Secrets of the Pharaohs." In the following exchange, roommates Jeremy and Mark are discussing Mark's manic, up-all-night habits as a first-time author. Jeremy is concerned in a minimally-invested sort of way, whereas Mark is delusionally confident that his book is going very well indeed.
Mark: I've done 6,000 words since 6 PM.
Jeremy: Yeah, I know. You type like you're trying to massacre imaginary ants swarming your keyboard. 
Mark: I've had seven black coffees and I feel like I'm really nailing it. 
Jeremy: Mark, you're in caps. It looks like you've been in caps for a few hours. 
Mark: Caps still count! I've just drawn an irresistible comparison between Mentuhotep V and Branson. I'm thinking of drawing Branson as a hieroglyph. What do you think?  
Jeremy: I think maybe you should get quite a lot of sleep. 
Mark: I just need to hit a thousand more words, then a spell-check, then I'm done. 
Jeremy: Ah, don't worry about the spell-check, dude. 
Mark: You don't think?  
Jeremy: No. They'll have a big spellchecker with all the latest words. That's what publishers are these days: spellcheckers who take you out for lunch.  
Jeremy: (thinking to himself) "Yeah, keep killing those ants, Charles Dickens."
There is much which is inarguably true in this comic back-and-forth. For one thing, we all know a Dickens. (Don't be a Dickens.) For another, publishers themselves would generally agree that they are really nothing more than elaborate spell-check services with a penchant for expensed lunch-hour indulgence in martinis and club sandwiches. Truth in art.

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