Reading this book was like some kind of masochistic scraping over the hot coals, and yet, in inimitable JB style, (that ‘slap in the face’ method of getting your attention), works for me!
John’s irreverent style not only works, but is also invaluable for newly emerging writers; particularly the ones who are a little too full of their own importance. And there are quite a few of those, I’m afraid to say. (There’s nothing worse than a new author who, as yet doesn’t know how much he/she doesn’t even know, because if they did, they wouldn’t be so cocky!)
Both JB and Steven Pressfield (another brilliant writer you should be following), use the phrase “why no one wants to read your sh**t”(it’s the name of Steven’s blog), succinctly and appropriately in terms of making an important point; and that is, that you need to put your best efforts in and suffer a little for your art – writing, like any other profession, takes a lot of effort and practice, before you can get it to the standard that your readers will enjoy reading. And I agree with JB wholeheartedly, that you should never serve up “sh**t!
The book is full of really useful information – the stuff that writers need to know – and he is not afraid to let you have it, by serving up platefuls of “reality check” in relation to the glamorous notions new writers get into their heads on living the ‘life of a writer’, along with useful tools, tips for efficiency, marketing advice and some anecdotes he has gathered over the years he has been writing.
Loved the stories of writers at writers’ festivals who became too full of themselves and precious to the point of being horrendous to deal with. “There is always one monster among the visiting literati, one writer so irredeemably vile that nobody wants to wrangle with them.” and JB goes on to say, “One such bestselling creature…..spent the entire visit complaining about the wretched food, and pissy coffee and the horror of being dragged to this shit hole at the end of the world.” And he even goes on to quote from this miscreant, with the irreverent comment she “spewed” forth from the stage, (which she shared with her fellow, bestselling American writers I might add), asking in front of them, “What I am doing on stage with these fucking nobodies?”.
Of course, John Birmingham’s writing is not for everyone – not if you are squeamish, overly conservative and easily offended. Not if you are one of those “precious” literati types who hold their noses high in the air so they can’t recognise a good book when they trip over it. Nor are they aware that their “sh**t” stinks just like anyone else’s! But for the majority of readers who love a bit of irreverence with their morning coffee, his writing is “Hunter Thompson” style — terrific – and just as irreverent!
So the book combines hugely useful information, gifted through the personal experiences anecdotal evidence, and skilful writing of one of Australia’s most successful writers today (and who earned his title in the trenches), so I think you’d be crazy not to read it!