You've seen it, I'm sure. You see a famous author on the bookshelf and you think that maybe they just released their latest novel only to have your bubble burst when you see the author's name have a hyphen or the words "with so and so." I saw it earlier this week with the new Tom Clancy and I felt my blood boil to a fever pitch, knowing that the man had just given up on writing altogether.
And to think I once had admiration for the asshole. Granted, I was 14 then and didn't know any better. Hell, I was reading, right? As I got older, my tastes changed and I became more and more appreciative of writing as an art and less as a commodity (though both are important for separate reasons). I still maintain The Hunt for Red October is a good book and a solid American spy thriller (a cosmic rarity in of itself). His later books, however, became less about story and more about the latest technology or Clancy getting on his political soapbox and the books, as a result, took a nosedive. From The Bear and the Dragon on, the books went into total freefall. After 2003, there was a lot of speculation about what his next book would be. We got our answer in 2010 with Dead or Alive. We also learned he 'co-authored' the book with Grant Blackwood. That was all I needed to see. He didn't write the book. At best, maybe he polished the first draft and worked on the outline.
I knew he'd been doing this kind of thing with different series like Op-Center and Net Force, but doing it to your flagship series... this is where any last drops of respect I'd had for the man disappeared.
James Patterson is arguably the most famous culprit, "writing" series all over the place. I never had much use for the man to begin with, but it is depressing that he is duping readers with third-rate garbage written by people trying to emulate him.
And then we have our celebrities trying to write. Those fuckers couldn't put two intelligent sentences together if I put a loaded automatic to their head. Steve Martin and a few others aside, the others don't do the work themselves. Tori Spelling? Bristol Palin? Lauren Conrad? Yeah, right. They come up with whatever "idea" (usually thinly based on their own lives or their "memoirs") and they get someone else to write them.
Politicos are no different. Hell, it's been widely accepted that Jack Kennedy didn't write the Pulitizer winner Profiles in Courage. What makes you think that stupid hick Sarah Palin wrote her books?
I take great comfort in Elmore Leonard, who's 85 and probably slipping a little, but the man still writes his books by hand, one word at a time. If you have any regard for yourself, you'll take this advice to heart:
Write your fucking book yourself.