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Tom Robbins, ranting in the Times, conflates the difficulty of making a living with the challenge of doing the writing:
“What’s next…kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists? Any parent who thinks that the crafting of engrossing, meaningful, publishable fiction requires less talent and experience than designing a house, extracting a wisdom tooth, or supervising a lunar probe is, frankly, delusional.”
This is nonsense on two levels. First, writing fiction is significantly easier than leading part of the Apollo mission (can we accept that as a given?). Second, and more important, it’s free! No gums are damaged, no thumbs are hammered, no shuttles are launched.
The author of the piece makes a common reporter’s mistake, associating the cost of paper with the cost of a book. Today, a teenager can self-publish an ebook in five minutes, for free, and I hope she will.
The single best thing to happen to the future of book publishing is the fact that young people who believe that they have something to say now have a chance to say it. Some of them will persist, and a whole generation of writers will be born. Dentists, we don’t need so much. Writers? Yes.