Friend/Acquaintance: OMG, I just finished, like, the 12th Nicholas Sparks novel in two weeks.
Me: Oh, really? Cool (sarcasm). What do you like about them?
Friend: I don’t know. Someone recommended it to me, and I just fell in love.
Me: Have you ever thought about getting a room together?
Friend’s bro: Seriously, Estevan just wants you to read his book.
Friend: Hey, I read your book before my brother. Wait…did your second one come out yet?
Me: Yeah, about a year ago.
And that’s pretty much how it is, folks. Warning…this may be a bit of a rant. You know, it’s a rather curious relationship: the friend to book thing. I mean, most of my friends are guys, and guys are usually reluctant to read and whatever. But it just seems weird how one of their friends puts out five novels, and they’ve only read…um…none or one. Something’s off. Now, if all my stuff sucked, that’d be one thing. But a simple cruise through the amazon review pages will show that I don’t. Granted, my stuff isn’t for everybody. I get that. But if one of my friends put out a short film or a CD or whatever, I’d show some interest. But then again, maybe that reluctance to try something by someone you know is squelched in me because of my profession. Jury’s still out on that one.
My friends, and their respective ball and chains, have read everything from Twilight to James Patterson to Nicholas Sparks to The Hunger Games. And another one of my friend’s family reads a ton, specifically the genres I write in, yet neither of the members has ever read one of my stories. Ever. I scratch my head, and I’m, like, will they ever? Probably not. Sometimes I feel like even if my stories hit NYT bestseller status, these people will still be rubbing their chin with a raised eyebrow wondering if it’s worth their investment.
“A prophet is welcome everywhere but in his hometown.” That famous phrase can really relate to any creative profession. Just change prophet to ARTIST. There’s a curious psychology to all of this. I think something clicks in our minds when we discover that someone we know has made a film or written a novel or cut a record. It’s as if we instantly shuffle that knowledge to the back of our minds under the category of “things we can live without.” We’re wary to try it because it might suck. After all, we know the person, and there’s no said individual could have created something we’d enjoy. I mean, c’mon…right? Take any hugely successful book. Twilight or Harry Potter or Stephen King’s stuff. All stuff that has climbed the pop culture charts, become popular, great things. But I’ll bet 9 to 1 some of these writers’ friends have never picked up their books. Why? Because there’s a fear there. As I said before, we don’t think our friends are capable of making something worth our investment. Also, chances are they’re jealous.
Now, this is not an ego trip post, I promise. I’m not saying I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I am definitely better than pumpernickel in general. Rather, I am saying that if you’re a writer, or any kind of creative person, be aware that this reality will hit you at some point. By all means, hope for your friends and family (yes, my family doesn’t really read my stuff either) to be into your passion, but know that the odds are they won’t be. There’s just not enough time in their busy schedules. They just finished Dear John, and they have to read it once more before your book makes it up their TBR list. They can’t get caught up on The Walking Dead. Whatever the reason, you’ll be last. But then again, if you were reading my post carefully, you’ll note I mentioned books like The Hunger Games and Twilight and Harry Potter. All of these books have exploded in terms of popularity.
Just create the best thing you can. Fans will follow.
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