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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Writing Fiction

In at least one way, fiction writing differs pronouncedly from non-fiction, as also from other forms of creation. The best surgeons, for example, are generally the best paid, the best basketball players earn far more than mediocre ones, the best architects, best engineers, etc. etc. In non-fiction, too, the better writers are the most likely to succeed. Not so in fiction, where the best are far less likely than the mediocre ones to be published and acknowledged. Fortunate are those who aim at the sweet spot in the Bell Curve - not too hot and not too cold - and who sell in the millions while lingering for a long time at the top of bestseller lists. Numbers are everything, and the number of not-too-smart readers outnumber discriminating ones by a ratio of about a hundred to one. “Cultural democracy,” it might be called, a foolproof way of ensuring that America will never rank culturally in the same place as its political and economic power might lead one to hope.

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