On Wednesday, Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You, which won Amazon’s book of the year award, simply tweeted a request to teachers not to assign emails to authors. In a series of explanatory tweets to angry users, who tweeted to chide her for being ‘selfish’ and tell her that students should stop reading her book, Ng patiently explained that a teacher required students to obtain a quote from her in order to receive full credit….
To expect Ng to respond to the emails of 30 students is ridiculous. Instead of demanding a response or pressuring an author to respond by docking a student’s grade, perhaps it’s best to just go back to old-fashioned research.
Celeste Ng is right: authors shouldn’t feel forced to respond to readers | Books | The Guardian. No freaking kidding. And I suspect the people who are lashing out at Ng for not wanting to be swamped by demanding emails are the very same people who are outraged at how slowly George R. R. Martin is writing. There seem to be a good many readers who want writers to (a) always be writing and (b) always be available.
But not only is George R. R. Martin not your bitch, Celeste Ng isn’t your bitch either — no writer is.
If a writer writes a book, and a reader buys and reads that book, the transaction is complete. Something has been offered; that something has been received. A writer has no obligation to answer emails, sign books, or write more books. If he or she does those things, wonderful — but none of them is a duty.
I like Elena Ferrante’s way of being a writer: she does nothing for us except produce great books. She refrains from participating in the social elements of modern authorship — except for the occasional email interview — because she feels that anonymity and reticence preserve her ability to write honestly, with integrity, and without apology. As her devoted reader, I call that a damned good deal.