Philip Roth was quoted in The Guardian this week telling a young writer ‘Don’t do this to yourself.’
But if you want to make a living these days there are very few respectable professions left.
I used to think my teaching qualification would stand me in good stead throughout my career. Now teachers aren’t to be trusted. As if being threatened with knives and bits of furniture in the classroom isn’t enough, teachers always have politicians on their backs trying to make them prove they’re good enough to teach our kids.
Politicians! Ha! My teachers always considered it the ultimate career goal to become a politician, or even Prime Minister. But we know now they’re all tax dodgers and expenses cheats who abuse our trust while they go off in pursuit of personal gain and illegal sexual gratification.
Social workers are always in the firing line, too, aren’t they? Whenever a child is beaten, a social worker gets the blame. Were some young girls groomed by paedophiles? Oh, it was the fault of their social workers. Social workers are nearly always criminally negligent.
Nurses? Murderers. Doctors? Incompetent.
Banking used to be respectable. Now anyone who works in a bank is guilty of causing the complete collapse of the global financial system in 2008, which destroyed all our pensions.
Seventies pop star? Radio DJ? Dear God!
Priests? There are more paedophiles in the priesthood than in politics and pop combined.
Accountants? Well, they’re the ones who make all the corruption in the world possible. When they’re not massaging balance sheets to disguise a company’s sickening losses, they’re advising global behemoths how to avoid paying tax. Who ever heard of an honest accountant?
Oil company executive. Tobacco manufacturer. Pharmacist. Food producer. Distiller and brewer. Can any of them hold their hand up and say they are working for the greater good of society?
What about policemen? We’ve just had some elections in the UK to elect a new type of official to keep policemen under control. They’re already under attack for taking a job that pays £100,000 a year without getting a clear mandate from the electorate. Is it their fault that no-one bothered to vote? Clearly it is, since the Home Secretary is already having to defend them.
The journalists reporting on all this greed and corruption are at least doing a good job, though, aren’t they? Oh, wait, I forgot. The newly-appointed Director General of the BBC has just had to resign because of poor editorial controls. First they covered up a story about a paedophile in their ranks and then they pointed a finger at the wrong man. We now have a news organisation in complete chaos, turning on itself with naked acrimony. At least the wronged parties have managed to find some good lawyers.
Good lawyers. Now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
Which brings me back to writers. I know writers are evil. They spam you on Twitter and cause fake reviews to be written on Amazon to con people into buying their books. They disparage their rivals and spread lies and libel in order to achieve their ends. They abuse your friendship on Facebook and ambush you on Goodreads. They split infinitives. They make stupid spelling mistakes. They are too lazy to proof-read. They devalue literature by selling novels that took them 2 years to write for a mere 87 pence (including VAT — which Amazon doesn’t pay, by the way) or 99 cents or even for nothing at all!
Nothing at all? Yes! Writers sometimes GIVE BOOKS AWAY! Incredible isn’t it? How can they be so irresponsible, so dirty, so … so CHEAP?
Well, for better or worse, I’ve advised my daughter to become a writer. She’s busy writing now. Poetry, as it happens.
And in order to fund the education for her future career, I’m giving away copies of my novel Winternights. It’s free on Amazon today and I hope Amazon bloody well accounts to the UK government for all the VAT it collects from my years of hard work.
But I don’t feel good about it. I feel immoral, to tell you the truth. I’ve failed as a parent. My book itself, besides being free, is the spawn of the Devil.
In fact I think I’m going to spend the afternoon beating myself with birch twigs and cutting my flesh with a dull razor blade. Then I’ll sit down to write the sequel.