“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket” – attributed to Eric Hoffer.
I’m a startup junkie — I love everything about how people can form together into small teams and change the world. To me it’s the great untold story of the 20th and 21st century.
I also love writing. I have been a writer in some fashion or another for over 20 years, and loving every minute of it.
When I first started being serious about writing, I bought a copy of “Writer’s Market”, which would tell you where you could sell your writing. I subscribed to magazines like “The Writer” which educated me on all things a professional writer does and is. I attended conferences about being a writer. I sought out advice on how to submit, how to query, what to do or say and what not to do or say.
And a funny thing happened.
First, I became slightly successful. I wrote for local newspapers, regional magazines. Heck, I even did an interview of Clive Barker for High Society magazine. I realized that as much as I loved writing, it was a long haul and being rich probably wasn’t in the cards.
Second I realized that I was consuming a vast amount of total crap in all the literature about writing. Take stories about what editors want. Some editor would write 500 words about what he wanted — short cover letters, strong hook, yadda yadda. But what did he really want? He wanted a story to sell magazines. The story he was writing all kind of boiled down to “Don’t pester me kid. I get a hundred like you every day, so write short letters, don’t call, use an agent, do any freaking thing except for pestering me. I don’t have time to sort through all of this junk I get”
Then there were the people who tried to sell me on making a living writing children’s books. Or how-to books. But only if you paid them $99.95 for the full course. The deal here was that gee, there’s no way all these folks are successful children’s writers — so where is the real action? The real action is selling courses on how to be a writer, not actually being one.
Lately, however, as much as I love startups, I’ve been seeing the same thing in the startup culture. As well-meaning as most people are, it’s more of a racket than a help.
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