Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blogger: Novelist Devan Sipher

Before I introduce our guest, a quick reminder: Stop by often in June! I've got two novels coming out, so there will be all manner of blog parties and giveaways around here. 

Also, you can now pre-order the print version of Green Light Delivery via Kickstarter, and get awesome alien swag!

And now, without further ado, I'm honored to present Devan Sipher, author of the novel The Wedding Beat, released in April by Penguin. He reminds us what important work it is to write a book. Enjoy!

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“Times are bad.  Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book” —Cicero

Is it only me, or does this quote make you picture marble shelves overloaded with remaindered books in ancient Rome?

There were almost 300,000 books published in 2011.  In the United States.  Add the rest of the literate world, and the number jumps to nearly two million.  And that’s just in one year.  That means there must be at least five million authors on the planet.  More likely the total is closer to ten or twenty million. 

So what is the point of writing a book?  What are the odds of coming up with a manuscript that’s uniquely compelling if there are so many people endeavoring to do the same?  It’s enough to make me almost pity publishers.  Almost.

When I was young I thought my writing could change the world. (I was very young.)  Yet I still yearn to contribute to society and wonder if I should have chosen a more directly useful profession:  like doctor, carpenter, or cable repairman.

Instead, I have written my first novel, The Wedding Beat, a romantic comedy loosely based on my experience as a single guy writing the wedding column at The New York Times.  It’s a lighthearted beach read.  Yet there was nothing lighthearted about my approach.  I slaved at my computer 12 to 15 hours a day, 6 days a weeks, working through back injuries, power failures and a rotating cast of Presidential candidates.

I was determined to write the best book possible.  More than that, I wanted to provide readers with the best experience possible.  Because that’s what I consider my primary obligation.  I believe there’s an unwritten contract between writer and reader.  A sacred oath, if you will, that I, as author, do solemnly swear not to bore you or insult your intelligence.

But if I’m being honest, there was another motivating factor.  And it had nothing to do with other people’s enjoyment reading my book and everything to do with my own enjoyment writing it.  In the past, I’ve been disdainful of people writing merely because it made them happy.  I mean, that’s lovely for them, but what about the poor sap who has to read what they disgorge? 

I clung to the notion that writing required selflessness, and a fair amount of suffering, before it was worthy of being bestowed on readers.  But writing isn’t something bestowed, it’s something that’s shared.  And what I’m sharing is the joy and pride I take in crafting a story and conjuring a world in the rhythm of words. 

I still remember the lightheaded euphoria I felt on the day I finished my manuscript.  If there are ten million people who derive similar pleasure, then so be it.  After all, it was Cicero who also said “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

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You can visit Devan Sipher at his website.  You can purchase The Wedding Beat on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere.


  1. Amen to this post! I enjoy writing, but what's most important to me is that my readers enjoy what I write. Because of this, I don't "just write". I write once and edit 50 times it seems.

    Congratulations on The Wedding Beat.

  2. What a great post! Love it :)

  3. I love those moments when I finish a manuscript, too. If only the revision process didn't immediately follow after...

    Great post! I enjoyed it.

  4. That feeling each day of having written is what keeps many of us going!

  5. Remind yourself IT MATTERS.

    The world would often tell you otherwise, so it's important to ring that bell. Thank you for this guest post.

  6. Thanks so much, Anne, for introducing us to Devan and his work. I enjoyed this post very much, which has convinced me to add his book to my TBR list.

  7. Lovely post! Especially because so many people look down on books that do not fit into their definition of what a 'worthy' read is. All books are created with a lot of effort on the writer's side and should be respected because of that!