The last time I had lunch with Elaine Flinn, the funny, vivacious author of the Molly Doyle mysteries, she summed up this business of being a writer rather graphically and succinctly. Leading up to that moment, I was talking about Lynne Cheney (wife of the vice president) who had gone on Jon Stewart’s show to sell her memoir. My husband thought her guest appearance was shocking, considering that Jon had called Dick Cheney the Prince of Darkness, among other horribly unflattering things. I was less surprised by Lynne Cheney’s appearance, after all, she was a writer with a book to sell. But Elaine summed it up best, “We’re all whores.”

We burst into laughter and drew stares from the diners around us. Neither of us cared much.

Of course what Elaine meant was that we want so desperately for people to read our work—and love us in return—that we will go just about anywhere, say just about anything, participate in just about any gimmick (contests, human auctions, dressing in character, standing outside a bookstore with a three-foot poster), and put up with all manner of inconvenience and insult. Writers often sell their books one at time in a very personal exchange. Seldom does anyone actually get naked during the transaction, but it does feel a little whorish at times.

I’m not complaining or disparaging anyone. We do it for the love of the craft and the love of the readers. Few of us are in it for the money. Which is a good thing, because street walkers never get rich. But to take this analogy one step further, Elaine Flinn was a high-class call girl. And I will miss whoring around with her.

  1. Whether the analogy is a good one or a bad one, any kind of promotion for yourself or on someone else’s behalf is looked on in the same light as prostitution anyway so why not embrace it. I usually contain calling my self-promotion whoring to my inner dialogue, but I do on occasion call it shameless self-promotion to bring that into focus myself so that any detractors will be late to the punch. As for the actual act of promoting, if I don’t at least begin the promoting myself no one else will.

  2. Wait, there’s money in writing?

    robert g male: so true.

  3. Lots of people are stopping in, but few are commenting. Is this idea to harsh?

  4. Writers are whores if they write what other people tell them to write…if they write for money. We’re artists, LJ. We don’t sell ourselves for money.

  5. I’ve been prostituting my talent for years. Writing newsletters and articles instead of novels. Who hasn’t? 🙂

    Yvonne Eve Walus writing as Eve Summers

    He will force you to do EVERYTHING you’ve ever wanted to do….

    “A Slave of My Own Desire” (Red Rose Publishing, October 2008)

  6. To speak to what Yvonne Eve Walus commented. That is what I have been doing lately. I’ve done more work on promoting than on creating, especially when it comes to blogging. My only consolation is that I am trying to make the blogging work as research for me. That and I like to educate.

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