Friday, June 23, 2017

You May Be a Bestseller on Tralfamadore! Why Writers Write.

This blogpost first appeared on Nathan Bransford's blog on Jan 22, 2010, and it launched my blogging career.

I thought it would be fun to revive it.

Even though the self-publishing revolution has changed the logistics for new writers, the reality is the same: only a few of us are really successful at writing fiction.

So why do we all feel compelled to keep turning it out?

It's the Tralfamadorians! 

Kurt Vonnegut's drawing of a Tralfamadorian actress
Nathan Bransford once posed a question on his blog: “How Do You Deal with the ‘Am-I-Crazies’?

Those are the blues that can overwhelm the unpublished/ underpublished novelist as we slog away, year after year, with nothing to show for our life’s work but a mini-Kilimanjaro of rejection slips.

The truth is, most fiction writers spend our lives sitting alone in a room generating a product that has zero chance of ever making a penny—or even being seen by a person outside our immediate circle of friends, relations and/or personal stalkers.

So—not surprisingly—we occasionally ask ourselves that big, existential question: WHAT ARE WE—NUTS?

Trying to answer can plunge a writer into despair. So how do we cope?

Most of the over 250 respondents to Nathan’s post answered with variations on the following advice:

1) Embrace the crazy and accept that we are, most of us, deeply and certifiably Looneytunes.
2) Chocolate helps.
3) Ditto booze and caffeine.
4) Ditto sunrises, music, and long walks.
5) Ditto the company/blogs/tweets of other lunatic writers.
6) And reading good books.
7) Or crap books, because we know we can do better than THAT.
8) Funny, nobody mentioned sex,
9) But denial is good. Really good.
10) And keep writing, even if it’s just for ourselves, or the one person who reads our blog, or the dog, or whoever…because: WE CAN’T STOP OURSELVES.

Kurt Vonnegut in 1972
And why is that?

Well, I have a theory: It’s the Tralfamadorians. If you’ve read your Vonnegut (and what business do you have calling yourself a writer if you haven’t read Vonnegut?) you know about Tralfamadore. 

It’s a planet where a super-race of toilet plungers exist in all times simultaneously. The name of their planet means both “all of us” and “the number 541,” and they control all aspects of human life including social affairs and politics.

Since these beings have infinite time on their hands, I figure they’ve got a lot of leisure to fill up with reading. And how do they get their books? Of course! They compel earthlings to write novels. Hundreds of thousands of them. Way more than earthbound publishers and readers can handle. But on Tralfamadore—hey, they’re consumed like Skittles.

On Tralfamadore, books are consumed like Skittles
In fact, the Tralfamadorians are so eager for new material, they’ve figured out how to transmit stories right from our brainwaves to their TralfamaKindles the minute you type “the end” on that final draft.

And it could be that right now, as we speak, your first novel—the one that has been sitting in the bottom of a drawer along with its 350 rejection letters and the restraining order from that editor at Tor—could be at the top of the New Tralfamadore Times bestseller list.

Think about it. You could be the Dan Brown of that whole part of the galaxy, where readers are desperate—pining, pleading and panting—for your next book.

And that voice in your head telling you to pound away, day after day, trying to finish that opus, even though everybody, even your girlfriend—and your MOM for god’s sake—says it sux? That’s a transmission from the Doubleday Company of Tralfamadore saying, “Hurry up, dude, we gotta have this for our Christmas list!”

Hey, just prove to me it’s not true.

What about you? Do you feel compelled to write? Even if nobody much seems to be reading? How do you deal with the "Am-I-Crazies?"

Smart, funny mysteries with a touch of romance

"Anne R. Allen is P.G. Wodehouse for the 21st Century!" 
... Sidonie Wiedenkeller

GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY:  Camilla Mystery #1 

After her celebrity ex-husband’s ironic joke about her “kinky sex habits” is misquoted in a tabloid, New York etiquette columnist Camilla Randall’s life unravels in bad late night TV jokes. Nearly broke and down to her last Hermes scarf, she accepts an invitation to a Z-list Writers’ Conference in the wine-and-cowboy town of Santa Ynez, California, where, unfortunately, a cross-dressing dominatrix named Marva plies her trade by impersonating Camilla. When a ghostwriter’s plot to blackmail celebrities with faked evidence leads to murder, Camilla must team up with Marva to stop the killer from striking again.

Ghostwriters in the Sky is available in e-book at all the Amazons iTunesGooglePlay  KoboInkteraScribd and NOOK.

It is available in paper at Amazon  Barnes and Noble and Walmart

It's FREE at iTunesInktera, and Kobo!


  1. This is a great post. I write because I love it.

    1. Thanks Patricia--Yup. We write because we're writers. That's what we do! :-)

  2. I write because these whacko characters have taken over my brain and insist on fighting their way out. Yes, it is a form of insanity. But Lord, isn't it glorious.

    1. Glorious insanity! That's exactly what it is, Melodie!

  3. Absolutely! Even if no one read a word, I'd never stop writing. The yearning only other writers understand is embedded in my soul.

    1. Sue--It's those Tralfamadorians in our brains. They make us do it, even if nobody seems to be reading us. :-)