Star Wars Writer Chuck Wendig Insults His Audience
Some of you might remember Chuck Wendig, the author who got the job (and the hype around) writing the novelizations for the rebooted Star Wars.
I don’t know what his precise major dysfunction is, but people assure me he could write before that job. Perhaps, like many other writers before him, he thought write-for-hire was beneath his dignity and sabotaged his own work because “those fools will read anything.” (For the record, and anyone reading this, I don’t care how exalted and artistic you think you are or how much you detest “selling out.” If you’re given a job and accept it you do it, with all you got and to the best of your ability. In the early oughts, I did a bunch of work for hire. Not media and most of it stuff I can’t talk about because it was ghostwriting for successful authors who had hit a bad health patch or something. Was all of it what I wanted to be writing then? None of it was. But sons needed shoes and books, and I was paid. I did my best to give value for value.)
Anyway, his first Star Wars book became an internet sensation overnight, in the way all of us who labor in words hope and very much pray that none of our books become a sensation.
There is a reason the fans were mad. Go ahead, read the sample. I dare you.
Chuck Wendig reacted badly to it then. One of my friends wrote about it. Note what my friend, Cedar Sanderson, says about being a writer, and a writer’s duty to his fans:
But as an author, we cannot expect our readers to put up with the egregious errors we perpetrate when we are told repeatedly of those errors. If the readers don’t like how your story is written, don’t double down and say that the readers are wrong. Don’t try to blame the readers for your failings by telling them that they aren’t smart enough, hip enough, or… something… to understand and appreciate your work. That isn’t how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Cedar is right. As a writer, your job is to write books that sell. You’re a small entrepreneur artisan -- no more. no less. You create your product and take it to market, and you hope it sells.
I realize Chuck Wendig came up through traditional publishing (as I did), which obscures the relationship of the writer to the ultimate consumer, the reader. First, you had to sell to the publisher, whose demands were often quite at cross purposes with those of the ultimate reader. Sometimes — often — the decisions the publisher makes or doesn’t make mean your book will or won’t sell regardless of quality. That’s just how the system works. (And also that you’ll get blamed for it because in tradpub it’s always the writer's fault.)