Why did she get a book deal? When people get book deals because they are “famous”.
I wasn’t surprised when Kim Kardashian released that ridiculous selfie book, there is a strange celebrity cult around the Kardashian’s that have never interested me too much. There is a sense that when a person who is famous without any discernible talent that it is imminently unfair when they publish a book. I say that in this instance that the book was awful because the concept behind the book sounded unsellable to me. As someone who reads a great deal and hopes to one day write a novel the argument that a person could post a book based on their self-Instagram shots is troubling and I am not the only one it seems.It is taking a great deal to not roll my eyes at even the cover to that book.
I believe that the idea stems from the fact that we expect writers to ‘deserve’ their books. We want to think that a book gets published because a person is talented. It is I think the same idea of what we are taught in school, that to work hard means that you are rewarded as such. We want to think that the musician that has spent years training to become a famous singer. That the writer not only has talent but has been furiously writing for the last four years to get published. The sad thing is that talent doesn’t always mean that you are rewarded as such.
The truth is that we want to believe that talent is the only thing that is stopping us from also be famous. I am not a psychologist and I am not trying to be at all. What I do believe is that this belief comes from when we were children, back then we were told that working hard was enough. As adults however, we learn that the truth is anything but.
Which brings me to my next point, I read today that the woman who uploaded a video of herself happily playing about in a Chewbacca mask got a book deal. The woman’s name is Candace Payne and she is a 37-year-old mother from Texas. I personally was surprised as she became an internet sensation that became quite popular but then vanished just as quickly. There is a frightening thing about celebrity is that it can change people’s lives way too quickly and then leave when the world changes their mind. I am surprised because generally those sort of viral videos doesn’t really have the staying power to get a book deal on this. Though Harambe is still being mentioned so maybe I am glaringly wrong.
What prompted me to write this is in response to the comments that surrounded this announcement, people were angry. Why were they angry? They were angry because it changes how we were told as children. I am a child of the nineties, we are labelled as being used to participation medals and being told that we are extremely special. While I can argue that this is a product of most generations and positive based reinforcement is proven method in deal with children. All the preparation in the world can’t prepare us for the power and dynamics around fame. It doesn’t mean that we average people will always receive a reward for our troubles.
The truth is that the Chewbacca mother did not post the video because she expected a book deal, instead she took the little fame she has and followed it through. While we may not want to admit it, we too would take the same opportunity. I hope for her sake that I am not correct but I expect that the book will probably not sell the numbers that the book sellers expect of it. A few years ago I bought the autobiography of the lead singer of the band Gossip for a $1 at the local bookshop. Consider that Gossip’s youtube channel has at least one music video with over twenty-two million views and they were on the throw out bin, I wonder what will happen with the Chewbacca mum when people forget. While you could say that well this doesn’t show popularity, Gossip was a popular band for years much longer than Chewbacca mum has. The truth is that there will always be people that are given book deals when they don’t deserve it.
I have two degrees and yet there are people in high positions that don’t even have degree. The truth is that instead of getting angry at someone getting a publishing deal like this think of the writers that deserve the place they have.
Neil Gaiman’s recent book has continued to sell out as soon as it comes into a book store. For a man in his fifties who has had lasting power as a writer even he is flabbergasted at the desire for his book. This story makes me happy as he deserves this, he has worked hard for many years writing book after book. He is kind to his fans and often will sign books in a bookstore and leave them so that the often struggling independent book sellers to make them more desirable. I heard a story once that when bad things happen to look for the good people. I think that we need to care less about the people that got something that they didn’t deserve and more about the people that got something they did. I want to one day write a book that gets published and I hope I get this because I deserve it.
In the meantime, I started this so I can remember to love writing again, writing is about more than words on a page. Writing is about enjoying the process of it, it’s about the excitement of creating something that you made. I am not an artist but I imagine that it’s the same thing that they feel when they create an artwork. Please don’t be sad that someone got something you didn’t because I do believe that hard work is always going to lead to a positive result. Even if it is not the one we wanted. At least I want to believe that because otherwise what would the point of doing anything be? Maybe being famous isn’t important but just having at least someone enjoying our work. Remember why you want to write and then it’s less important who got their first.