09 August 2010

Is Everyone in the World Writing a Book?

Is everyone in the world over the age of 12, and some under that age, writing a book?

Do not get me wrong. I have nothing at all against anyone writing a book. I love the concept of Stonermom's book in progress, for example, and have told her so. I look forward to reading it someday. In other words, it is certainly not my intent here to mock those involved in the noble endeavor of writing books. If that were my intent, it would be quite obvious. And I would not give a damn by the way.

Nonetheless, the implications of so many people writing books are staggering. The United Nations estimates that next year the human population of this world will number 7 billion, a number that probably well exceeds the current population of the next world. This is an enormous infestation of the planet by our species. Enormous!

Let us just say that only 1/7th of the world population is writing books right now—a billion people approximately. I will grant you that this is not an infinite number of monkeys typing away on an infinite number of keyboards, but it is a number that is getting up there. What if 2 billion people or 3 billion people writing books is a more accurate number? We might as well be talking about an infinite number of monkeys. That number will continue to grow, too.

I contemplated Shakespeare's situation. Had he known that an infinite number of monkeys actually were typing away at an infinite number of keyboards, would he have gone to all the trouble to write Hamlet himself? Why would he not have simply waited for one of the monkeys to type it for him? The answer is obvious. Shakespeare did not have time to wait on those monkeys. He was working under a deadline and therefore, would still have had to compose Hamlet himself.

Now take me and my situation in contrast to Shakespeare's. I have nothing but time until my own demise. I am under no deadlines, monetary or otherwise. Writing a book is lonely drudgery. My approach is to relax and work on my tan until one of the monkeys writes my book for me.

It is bound to happen. It may not happen until something like, say, 7,000 years after my death. But I am not so solipsistic as to think that time will stop when I cease to exist. My reaction to the appearance of my book within that kind of time frame is simply “better late than never.”

The truth is that I really do not care about authorial credit either. Authorial credit is only an ego thing. One of the monkeys is more than welcome to take authorial credit for my book whenever he or she finishes it. In the context of geologic time, what does authorial credit mean anyway?

My only concern—and it is a big one—is whether the planet itself can hold out until my book gets written.

That, my friends, is a very serious concern.


Anonymous said...

I just want to let you know that I've been writing a book, a novel in fact. I'm sorry, I just can't stop myself. C'est la vie, eh?

Anonymous said...

I have never attempted to write a book, Senor. If I ever have one in me ... maybe.

felix said...

It is my belief that almost every person who enjoys reading will try writing a book sooner or later. Your estimate of one billion writers may be accurate. I don't know.

I have written a book. A very bad book. I was told so in so many words by the one professional who read a sample. By the time I received his judgement, my own was even more severe.

I am fiddling with another book. Incurable, I am.

An apt quotation on this subject:

Furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.–Ecclesiastes 12:12

Señor Steve said...

Good to get these reports from you three on the various stages of book composition in you find yourselves.

Of course, you are correct, Felix. Everyone who enjoys reading has thought about it. And many have done it. And good for them.

I am afraid that it is a young person's game though. I am afraid that my mind has petrified to the point where it would be futile to try to do one. Furthermore, I myself would have to read it.