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If You Give a Writer A Pencil

Posted by johnnieraz on January 26, 2025 at 2:55 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: When I created Raz's Velo-o-Rama, my first website, in 1994 as a creative display of my work covering bicycle racing in America as a freelancer, the thought of having complete control publishing my work became an addiction and an obsession. As technology advanced I rode the wave through cyberspace in various capacities always motivated to create rather than cash in. As I celebrate the anniversary of self-publishing my three ebooks I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and look at some of the ideas that flowed from my muse. This first is my tribute to the classic children's book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and its line of stories, which I planned to use as the introduction to a website called The Brain of Raz.

By Raz

     If you give a writer a pencil, chances are, he'll want a piece of paper.

     So you'll strap on your helmet and hop on your bike to go along with the writer to the office supply store.

     But once you're on the bike path, the writer will want to explore. Because that's what writers do. It's called creative procrastination.

     You'll be riding along the bike path and probably see a pack of bike riders racing very, very fast.

     And the writer will try to keep up with them, just to see if he can.

     So you'll ride your bike as hard as you can for as long as you can.

     When the bike racers slowly turn into tiny dots on the horizon, then disappear, the writer will say that's for the best. It's a better story now.

     That's when you'll realize you don't know where you are, and that you should have brought a map, if not a survival knife and flint.

     You'll be scared, but the writer will smile with glee. And he'll say, remember, what doesn't kill you ...

     ... makes you stronger, you'll answer proudly. But he'll crinkle his nose and say, Heck, no, what doesn't kill you makes a great story! CHA-CHING!

     And if you haven't realized it already, you understand why writers are lonely people without a lot of friends. At least, friends who are alive.

     You'll spend a few nights in the cold, eating wild berries and drinking rainwater as if you were on "Survivor." The writer will fill your empty nights with terrifying stories of what could happen to you, all them ending in death, as he continues to remind you that reality is stranger than fiction.

     Eventually you'll get rescued and even though you shared the frightening ordeal 50-50 with the writer, you find that really you only own 100 percent of your story, and none of the writer's.

     Of course, the writer will hire an agent, who will take 20 percent right off the top, which is fine with the writer, because if he tried to sell anything on his own he'd end up with 100 percent of nothing, just like you.

     The agent will sell the book to a marketing company, who will take 50 percent off the newly neatly trimmed top. The agent is fine with that because without the marketing company, he'd be earning 100 percent of nothing, just like you.

     The marketing company puts together the book and sells it to a publishing house, which will take 50 percent off the top simply because it can, and another 20 percent off the top for distribution costs. For some reason, the marketing company doesn't flinch at this. Probably because 100 percent of nothing is ...

     The distributor will sell the books to local stores, who will jack the price up even further, to take off their 20 percent.

     And you'll go to the bookstore for the signing on the day the book is released, and you'll fork over $39.99. But you won't mind because, of course, you know the author will only get about 50 cents of that, and he'll autograph the book, meaning someday when he rides a little too far and too fast, you'll get your money back and then some by selling it on eBay, with you actually getting to keep a full 100 percent.

     Which makes you start thinking that, hey, who needs all these people in the first place?

     Why not just buy a computer, type in your story, publish an ebook and offer it to folks like yourself for, oh, maybe $5 because you really aren't concerned about getting rich, you just want to make a decent living.

     And just to show how greedy the rest of the world is, you'll use what profits you gain to start a whole knew company that focuses on children and finding ways to inspire them to create dreams for their lives, and follow them with the relentlessness of a, well, a writer.

     So you go to the office supply store to buy a computer, and as they hand you a laptop you feel like you have all the power of the world behind you to help you tell your story.

     And then, you laugh, because you think to yourself, hey, this is much, much, MUCH better than ...

     ... if you give a writer a pencil.

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