08 April 2013

A Snippet About Success

I recently read a blog post by author, Kelly Oxford, on shortcuts to achieve writing success and it got me thinking --- is there such a thing? In short, I'd have to say, no.

But let me back up for just a minute. If you're not already familiar with her work, Kelly Oxford is a mommy-gone-comedy-writer with legions of devoted Twitter followers and fans. She was recently ranked one of TIME's 140 Best Twitter Feeds and achieved internet fame from her irreverantly funny blog, leading to the publication of her first book, Everything Is Perfect When You're A Liar. In the wake of her success, Kelly has been spotlighted in numerous TV appearances, articles and interviews, with many commenting on her bourgeoning success. One such headline (above) reads, "Writer takes short route to Hollywood success," which prompted a succinctly fierce response by Oxford on her blog.

I really admire Kelly's passionate retort to this jab about easy success and I'm inclined to agree with her rationale. Though I doubt the publication meant any purposeful harm, as a fellow writer, I find it bothersome that people automatically think written success can be obtained solely by using shortcuts or sheer luck. And yes, while there may be the occassional fan fic writer that hits the jackpot, most authors work very hard for a long time before they ever make it big (if they do at all). It's not easy facing rejection after rejection when doing what you love, so I understand why Oxford takes offense. This isn't just a job for her, this is a way of life  and to have someone degrade that with a silly assumption is really shitty.

The problem lies in ignorance. It's the fact that people who aren't writers, they don't fully understand just how much work and effort goes into writing and publishing something--- whether it be a book, screenplay, a thesis paper--- all of these things require a great amount of dedication and effort and care. It takes time, years in many cases, to see the finished fruits of your labour. Immediate success isn't the norm. And not only do you have to worry about finishing the project and getting it published, but often, you're expected to market that work too! So now you're not just an author, you're an agent, editor and a promoter. Look, I don't presume to understand the amount of time and effort that goes into engineering a building because I am not an architect. But I do know this --- shortcuts are never the answer. Would you want to be in a building where the architect used shortcuts in order to get it done? Didn't think so. It's not a quality product! So to think that writing is any different just because it's a creative pursuit is just absurd.

As fellow bloggers and my peers, I think most of you can relate to the notion that we write because we love it, because we have a desire to share our thoughts and literary efforts with the world. There are a lot of writers out there and most people can tell which ones take pride in their work and which  don't. Those who respect the craft aren't going to waste their time by not learning it or by rushing. There's a huuuuge difference between writing and writing well. Just like experts in any other field, authors have to be knowledgable about their craft. They have to hone their skills and practice, practice, practice otherwise they'll never truly succeed. Passion isn't always enough. And this is the sheer essense of Oxford's fiery reply. 

Writing is a field whose worth should not be judged merely on the rapidness of its success. For many, it may be a job but it should never be a chore. Kelly's successful because she's passionate, driven and talented. Her success wasn't derived from who she knew or by what shortcuts she took and it makes this blogger sad to think that others don't see it that way. I have mad respect for her wit and refreshing honesy. Kelly gets it and she's earned it.

You can support Kelly Oxford by buying a copy of her book here or here.
Become a fan on Facebook , Twitter and follow her blog.

I am in no way affiliated with Kelly Oxford nor have I been compensated to endorse her. Pretty much, I wrote this post because I think she makes a valid point and, plainly, she rocks!

So to the readers --- What do you think? Was Kelly right to be offended? Or do you agree that there are a lot of people who make a living by taking shortcuts and getting lucky? If you're a writer, do you share the same point of view? What are some other stereotypes about writers that frustrate you?


  1. Yea, I don't blame her for being offended. How do they know how long she's actually been writing and working hard?
    Like you say, shortcuts are never the answer especially for something that takes such dedication as writing. I think the best writers, just write for themselves. They don't do it for publicity or money, they do it because they love it. The fame and fortune will come later, because us readers can see through the bullshit. If the writing isn't heartfelt, I don't think the books will sell much. So in that regard, the article is also insulting readers who buy her book.

    1. I agree with you 100%, Naida. I don't think that particular publication meant such an offense but you do sorta hear about it all the time. Oxford's been a blogger for many, many years now and it sounds like these reporters aren't doing their research very well. Most successful authors start writing because of the passion and the drive to do so, not because of the expectation that they'll get famous from it. Their readers and their peers can tell when they "fake it" (so to speak) and you're absolutely right, they won't buy it if it isn't quality.


You stay classy now! And thanks for stopping by. But mostly stay classy.

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