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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bestsellers and Worst-sellers

What is it about writers, awards, reviews and ratings? If you win an award, you’re so ecstatic that you can’t focus on your writing. A good review leaves you hungry for more. Ratings are never enough. If your book ranks #20 on New York Times bestseller list, you want to be #15 and when #15, you want to be #10 and so on. Why do writers need the outside validation of their existence? We should be enough but we’re not.

In our desperate search for approval, we throw our talents to the wind and worry our hearts out to make it to the top. But what’s on the bestseller list is not necessarily better than the books that never made it to the list. To make it all the way up, you need either money or luck. If you have it, you flaunt it while pushing everyone else’s ratings down in order to get yours up and if you don’t, tough luck.

As a result, books get commercialized to death and many talented writers fall to the bottom of the slush pile and some even give up on their art. Perhaps the best thing to do is not worry so much about reviews, awards and ratings and instead keep our eyes on the ball – hard to do in a world where success is measured by our popularity and the amount of money we make. But perhaps if we stopped being concerned about the outside acceptance, we would free up our minds and could actually write something meaningful.

I don’t know and don’t have the answers. I’m just someone ranting away to no one in particular. But there is one thing I know and that is – in order for there to be winners, there must be losers, for there to be great books, there must be terrible books and for there to be bestsellers, there must be worst- sellers and so the entire winning and losing, great and terrible, best seller and worst-sellers at some point becomes nothing but a poignant agony.