Monday, 16 March 2009

Writing Pitfall #4: Faking It

We've all met them, the pushy "writers" who claim to know it all but don't have the experience to back it up. They're especially common on Yahoo groups, but prowl around conventions too. I've found they tend to fall into three major categories, although I'm sure there are more types I have yet to have the displeasure to meet. Watch out for them, fellow writers, they'll steer you wrong if you give them half a chance.

1. The Multipublished Nonpublished Writer.
One fellow I came across boasted he had published more than a hundred poems. Considering the quality of his poetry, I had my doubts. I looked him up and guess what? His poems had all been published either on websites that are open to all content, or in a book of poems he self-published. Paying to get published or posting something on the web doesn't count as getting published. That isn't to say there aren't good self-published books out there, or talented work on the open content sites, but it's not the same as going through the submissions and editing process. And it certainly doesn't give someone automatic bragging rights.

2. The Writing Expert Who Hasn't Written Anything.
There's a strange subspecies of writer who has published nothing but "how to write" books. I have to wonder why they think their advice on writing should be taken seriously. I've been a professional writer for ten years and have seven professionally published books in print or in production, and I only just now feel qualified to write a "how to write" book.

3. The Pulitzer Prize Nominee.
When someone says they've been "nominated for a Pulitzer prize" every journalist rolls their eyes and moans. There's no such thing as being nominated for this prestigious award. You submit your own work for consideration. The prize committee announces nominated finalists and posts them on their website. That list doesn't include all the people who sent in something for consideration, yet some people will send in any old thing and then claim to be "Pulitzer nominees."
As the Pulitzer website's FAQ says, "Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. . .Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term "nominee" for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was "nominated" for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us."

So watch out for these three types of deceivers. I'm not sure what their motives are. Perhaps they are trying to boost their egos and get a following in the hope that this will improve sales of their books. Their energy would be better devoted to getting some real writing done.

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