Why Good Writing Matters – Case Study, “Stuff White People Like”

There is this blog called Stuff White People Like.  Have you heard of it?  This blog got a $300,000 advance for a book contract. 

Of course, this could all be racist, or could all be about social stereotypes, or it could all be satire.  Or, it could be all three.   You decide.  But the point is is it gets our attention.  So why does it get our attention?  Let’s discuss…

The writing draws us in.  It talks about upper middle class whites and values.  No, you won’t find people driving rusty pick-up trucks with fishing licenses hanging our of their back pockets here.  Unless, perhaps, they are carrying $800 Orvis fly fishing rods.

It walks a fine line between what we register in our in unconscious minds and what we usually, politely, don’t articulate.

This person found a way to articulate it.

An Aside…

William Faulkner worked at the post office.  No one listened to what he had to say.  And the mail was always late.  Why?  ‘Cause Willy was always to busy writing, that’s why.  So they fired him.

Faulkner has written some of the best stuff about social stereotypes and undercover urges.  He knew the racist South and why it was the way it was.  Because of this he wrote The Sound and the Fury.  He was later awarded a Noble Prize in Literature.

70 Years later…

Toni Morrison is working her job.  She works at night, during the day, and whenever she has a chance.  She also knows about the racist South and why it is the way it is.  She writes Beloved which wins a Pulitzer Prize and is a kick ass story of slavery and redemption and the by product of its psychological despair.

20 Years later…

(Fill in Your Name Please)  Because you know something we don’t and you need to tell us about it.

What am I getting at?  Write something close to home;write something that hurts. And who will be waiting? We, of course, and the famed Literary Agent.

Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like, received a $300,000 advance. That is every writer’s dream.  Need I say you can then quit your job at the post office?

As a short story writer and novelist, I like to hear these things.  It inspires me.

What would you do with $300,000?  Would you quit your day job?  Would you quit blogging?

So that is why good writing matters.  Impress us.  Flamboozle us.

Just keep at it baby.  And we’ll do lunch…

*Psst…Literary Agent – I’ve got a hot ecothriller just waiting to be published.  Wanna read it?*

Photo Credit: © Ellen Wilson

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18 thoughts on “Why Good Writing Matters – Case Study, “Stuff White People Like””

  1. Ellen, I have no doubt your book deal is round the corner! You are a kick butt writer! I love what you had to say and I agree write what you know, love, feel. Hmmm, with $300k I’d keep blogging because I love it. I would just do it from Italy!

    When you’re wildly famous, don’t forget us! 😉

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Fame is Fickle

  2. Italy sounds great! How about Venice? Or Florence?

    Karen, I’m hiring you as my new agent. I just know you could get the job done. E

  3. When you’re ready I am happy to market you! I would love to say “I knew her when!” Venice, Florence, hey why not both? 🙂

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Fierce Friday – I Did It My Way

  4. Europe sounds like a plan to me – but $300k would last you at least 5 years if you went (and temporarily moved) to a third world country. Some places are quite strikingly beautiful – not to mention the experience would make excellent inspiration for the next best seller 😉

    Personally, I would move to South Africa. It’s safer than you think 🙂

    Trisha’s last blog post..The Ghostwriter’s Betrayal: Lies of “Make Money Online”

  5. @Karen – You’re hired. Ha! Seriously, though, an agent who was interested in my work asked me how I planned to market it. Now I can say, well, I know of this excellent marketing genius named Karen Swim, surely you’ve heard of her? With more and more money being sucked up by the huge publishing conglomerates, a lot of the little publishing houses are getting by on a shoe-string, so now they want their authors to do a fair share of the marketing.

    @Trisha – I don’t know where I’d go. But the first thing I would do is pay off all of my debt. I like Venice, but it horribly expensive and even the native Venetians can’t afford to live there. But the water is so alluring, I need to be near the water.

  6. Ellen, I would love to promote you! You are so right about publishing. We all want that traditional deal and the perks that come with it. However, these days new authors are expected to come with a marketing plan and their own audience.

    @Trisha I would love to do the Brad/Angelina thing and travel to third world countries. You are right that there are so many beautiful, interesting places that are not on the traditional tourist route.

    Great motivation for the week ahead! Thanks!

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Fierce Friday – I Did It My Way

  7. but will that blogger/soon to be published author be happier?

    Will they end up having that ‘white people’ theme follow them around and influence everything they do from now on?

    Will they end up pigeon-holing themselves?

    Let’s hope not!

    Darren Daz Cox’s last blog post..Springtime Maiden oil painting and poem

  8. @ Darren – I was wondering if white people will read “stuff white people like” and not do these things anymore ’cause it’s not “cool.” It’s interesting how all this new media influences our ways of thinking and doing.

  9. Oh, I dunno. For $300K, I’d definitely be happy. Pigeon-hole me, I dont care.

    Mabye I wouldn’t be able to quit my day job for good. But at least I’d take a leave of absence for a year (or two) and be a ski bum out West like my retired Mom. And when I wasn’t skiing, I’d write.

    All you have to do is write a book that Oprah likes. If you can do that, you’re set for life. Oprah knows all..and sees all.

  10. You know, I’ve seen people blatantly suck up to Oprah by mentioning her in their novels. I mention Dr. Phil in my second. But there is a good reason for that, because there are few shrinks in the book.

    There is method to my madness.

    Chaos.

  11. I didn’t know Oprah didn’t know how to pump her own gas. I wonder if George Bush pumps his own gas?

    She does a lot of good for writers with her book club, though.

    Everything that grows big eventually has to fall. It’s part of the natural cycle of things. The only media entity I haven’t seen that happen to is Madonna. She manages to spin the scene really well.

  12. It was Brett who told me about Oprah and the gas, and apparently it’s true and she admitted it. If you Google it, you’ll have no problem finding it.

    I think Bush would certainly be able to pump his own gas. After all, he’s a good ol’ boy from Texas, aren’t they born with the ability to do manly stuff like that?

    Oprah certainly does help a lot of writers (which is why I think it would be great if she ever endorsed my book). Provided I write one first!

    By the way, did you ever see the Southpark Episode with Oprah and Towlie? (OMG…!!! That was brutal!) HAHAHAH!

    Friar’s last blog post..Small-Town Radio

  13. No, I haven’t seen that one on South Park. I’ll have to remember to look for it.

    I don’t know what “Manly Men” from Texas do. I think this is just one of Bush’s acts, you know, the good ‘ol boy routine. He plays it well. But not to fear, we may be getting our next hero GI Joe doll, in the name of John McCain.

  14. When America coughs, Canada sneezes. So we’re following the presidential campaign almost as closely as you are. And Zzzzzzz…I’m already so sick of it! This is why I often switch the TV to Southpark or the Simpsons.

    For purely selfish reasons I’d like to see John McCain win.

    It has nothing to do who I think should lead the free world, or how this might affect global instability.

    It’s because another Republican won, it would absolutely, totally drive mybrother-in-law NUTS! 🙂

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #8. Flight over Wrangell St. Elias

  15. Would I stop blogging for $300K? Heck no! For that kind of money, I could forget about creating my day job and blog with single-minded furioisity (is that a word?).

    And I would move my household to Canada so we could sneeze instead of cough. Like Tina Turner sang many moons ago, “We don’t need another herooooo…” We’d invite Friar over to watch the Simpsons and Southpark and ponder the implications (both good and bad) of Oprah’s influence.

    And Madonna avoids the fall of the natural cycle by recreating herself just as she starts the downswing: Law #25 of the 48 Laws of Power. Clever girl!

    Crystal’s last blog post..Waste No Part Of The Animal

  16. Crystal,

    You can make up words here. In fact, I encourage it. I like that word. Furiosity. I will start using it.

    I don’t know if I would stop blogging for $300K, but I know I would no longer have to worry about site design! I’d have Harrison McLeod do it, and pay him good bucks, too. I believe in spreading the money around. Even when I don’t have it! I am an excellent tipper in restaurants, because I used to waitress and know how hard it is – minimum 20%. Unless the person sucks. But it depends WHY they sucks. Perhaps they are having a bad day. I can tell.

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