Ariel Gore’s “How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead” is an ultra-readable book on writing, refreshingly devoid of pretense and overblown statements about the writer’s “craft”.
Ariel Gore comes from the “punk rock” school of writing and is the queen of DIY authorship. Her successful zine “Hip Mama” has spun off into the more widely published “Hip Mama Survival Guide”. Her insights are from the experience of a busy single mom with a passion for putting words to paper.
Gore’s take on writing boils down to (1) If you write, then you are a writer. And to be a writer, you must write. Publication is optional. But, (2) people need to see what you’ve written. Shameless self-promotion is part of being successful as a lit-star.
Gore includes interviews with other successful authors from a variety of genres (Ursula LeGuin, Dave Eggers, Margaret Cho, and Michelle Tea, for example). These authors provide helpful insights on the discipline and motivation needed to become successful. The book is less a “how-to” than a kick in the pants to get out there and go. It succeeds in giving a writer the psychological impetus to continue. Writing is what’s important. So is rewriting. Getting words down. Now, print it in a zine. Publish it online. Print it on flyers and hand them out. Do it.
This book really spoke to me on a personal level about my own endeavors at writing. I had checked the book out from my local library, but loved it so much I had to go out and buy it. Talent isn’t enough, and neither is passion. Motivation is all-important. You sometimes need another writer to come in say “You are a writer. Write!”