I was prowling the secondhand book stall at a local fete on Sunday. I was very strong and didn’t buy anything, but I couldn’t very well go past without even looking, could I?
So I’m cruising along checking spines and the two ladies cruising the other side of the table start discussing Matthew Reilly.
“You read any of his?” asks one, gesturing at Ice Station.
“Yeah, I read that one set in North America.”
“I’ve read a few, but they’re pretty bad.”
The second lady laughs. “I’d like to be that bad, if I could have his money.”
I’m not sure if people outside of Australia are familiar with Matthew Reilly but he’s a young guy who self-published his first book, sold enough to get noticed and has gone from strength to strength. He’s not “literary” but he sells like hot cakes, and good luck to him.
The first lady didn’t seem to understand the point her friend was making.
“Well, it’s easy, isn’t it?” she said dismissively. “Anyone could write them. I could write a better book myself. It’s just a matter of finding the time.”
Wow, I thought. My first real-life experience of what so many authors have talked about – this popular perception that writing is so easy anyone can do it. As long as you’ve got the time to “waste” on it, anyone can sit down at their computer and knock out a bestseller.
I’m still gobsmacked thinking about it. How can people take so much hard work for granted? Just because reading a book is easy doesn’t mean writing one is.