Thursday, November 21, 2013

Not in numbers


  Bestsellers are not necessarily books with good quality writing. Selling lots of books does not mean that the story is well written. It means that the book was well promoted. Period. I have met writers on the blogosphere that may not be selling many books, but they are very talented and I believe their stories deserve more attention.
  Unfortunately, we live in a society that venerates figures, scores, numbers, budgets, standardized tests, number of followers, number of words written, number of books read, etc.
  I am not trying to say that numbers are not important, but when they become more relevant than quality itself the situation becomes absurd.  I see this problem at every level. The system wants to measure everything.( It makes me giggle at times. We treat numbers instead of human beings).
  A system that only cares about numbers runs the risk of turning us into automatons. I certainly don't connect well with people who are obsessed with numbers. I am more concerned with quality, sensitivity and other matters that are not translated into numbers.
  High sales are not a marker of good quality writing, and good scores in education don't guarantee that the students are more likely to think creatively, or that they will innovate in the future. In fact, knowledge changes over time. It is more important to be motivated to keep learning than to score well on a test.
 As I write this post I remember The Little Prince and his encounter with a businessman who was obsessed with counting the stars. He did not know why he was counting them, but he thought it was a very important matter. And so he kept counting them.

 Now those students at Harvard must be very worried about their scores because they did not remember the name of the capital city of Canada. Oh, well, you can't get everything in life.

Till next time.

31 comments:

  1. In the long run, quality writing will be the winner. The problem is that 'in the long run' is usually after the writer is long dead. A few great writers scored big during their lives, but most didn't, at least not very big.

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    1. I agree with you, Richard. I do believe you are a very talented writer, by the way.
      I don't like people who try to force feed me on their own idea of what success means. Success means different things to different people.

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  2. Excellent, excellent post, Julia! Full of truth, and well-said!

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  3. How true! I think "success" is based on a person's individual goals, and only that person is fully capable of judging whether or not those goals have been achieved. Too many people pay too much attention to the opinions of others. I refuse to be rated by someone else's arbitrary scale. If I succeed or if I fail, it will be based upon my own expectations.

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    1. Exactly, Susan.
      I agree with you. I like how you summarize the matter.

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  4. Hi Julia .. numbers are awful as you've expressed in this context - and completely drain us, or could do ... I'd rather have a few beneficial comments and enjoy what I'm doing than struggle to get x number of comments, or followers or ...

    Thank you - I like being able to interact, make my own mind up, be an individual .. and endorse Susan's comment ..

    Well done for writing up this .. and I will not be counting the stars!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, sweet Hilary.
      Don't count the starts but enjoy them. The "businessman" thinks that daydreamers are lazy people who use their stars for their lazy purposes. What a wonderful book.

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    2. Sorry, I meant to say that they use his stars, because the businessman is convinced that he owns the stars.
      Such people are too full of themselves, I guess.

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  5. Hi Julia,

    I completely agree with you. I have alluded to such thoughts in many a past posting. I think that folks can become obsessed with numbers. Yet, the numbers do not speak of a superficiality that I have observed in blogging. I note bloggers with a huge amount of "followers" and yet have very little interaction on their site. It's all about how they market themselves and the figures do not speak of the truth.

    Indeed, bestsellers can be poorly written. As you note, the publicity and promotion can make all the difference. I know of a few alleged celebrities who have best selling books. Some of the worst writing imaginable, yet the name sells the books.

    If I was obsessed with numbers, totals and the like, I know how easily it would be to get loads more followers. However, I like being involved in a close-knit group that displays the ethos of sharing and caring.

    What a superbly thoughtful posting, Julia. Enjoy your weekend and I'm off to Ottawa :)

    Gary

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    1. Hahaha. Excellent comment, Gary.
      Did you read my mind?
      Have a wonderful time in Ottawa, my friend.

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  6. I agree that we are obsessed with numbers and scores, and, as a former public school teacher, I have to say real education (to create the love of learning and a life long learner) has taken a hit because of obsession with tests and test scores. I think the tide is turning, though.

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    1. I hope the tide is turning because education is the starting point of the issue. As I said, it happens on many levels...

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  7. You are so right. It's not all about numbers. Sometimes its about words or heart or intensity or or ... there is so much more to art than numbers.

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    1. Yes, Angelika.
      I don't think that those scores are an indicator of good quality education.
      I fulfill my duties in terms of numbers in my field, but the gist of my job is not in the numbers. It is in my human qualities. Unfortunately, we live in a society that venerates numbers and ignores human qualities.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry about the deletion, had to fix an error lol!

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  9. Julia, excellent post, I completely agree. I’ve been saying the same thing for years when I hear about a new “bestseller.” There have been several books in recent years that are poorly written but their sensational stories drive up sales, so they are touted as bestsellers. I have met writers via the blogosphere as well who are more talented than some commercially successful bestselling authors, but they don’t have the same promotion machine behind them. I think it’s a sad reflection on our society that more importance is placed on numbers and scores than on quality. Shakespeare living in our time might never have been published.

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    1. I agree with you, Jersey.
      I also believe venerating numbers and scores is a problem that goes beyond the bestsellers matter.
      As I said, I can't connect well with people who are obsessed with numbers because I feel they treat me as if I were just a number. It is a fact of life.
      I'm glad we met. I connect well with you, Jersey.
      Have a lovely week.

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    2. Thank you, Julia. I’m very glad we met and I connect well with you too. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  10. You are right. Just last week I caught an example of an author only caring about the numbers. I was in a book store and an author was sittng at a table engaged in a book signing. He looked bored so I stopped for a few moments and chatted about his book. It was historical fiction and I love history but he wasn't interested in talking about that period of his book..... he only wanted to sell more books. He wanted "bigger" numbers. I did not buy his book, but left.

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    1. I had exactly the same experience a couple of months ago.
      The author was obsessed with selling her books and had no interest in holding a conversation with me.
      I also notice the same kind of attitude on the blogosphere. I have been treated like a number when I thought that a friendship was sprouting. No, they were just interested in selling something ... I pledge to stay away from these people. I am too naive. (People can be very charming while they are stabbing you). Honesty bothers these people who are only interested in selling an image of themselves along with their "products."

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    2. Julia
      I know how that goes too. I have over 400 followers but I only communicate with maybe 15 or 20 and I don't even know who the others are. Nor could I ever keep up a communication with that many people, even if we had the same interests. I have other interests that do not include the computer, too. (Boy, that is hard to find these days, huh? ha) But I get so involved in gardening and teaching dance that I forget there is a computer.
      I used to be quite naive too, but the older one gets, the easier it becomes to see through people.

      I'll be leaving for my son's house in Bozeman today for the holiday. Wishing you and your family a loviing and grateful celebration on this holiday.

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    3. Thank you for your reply, Manzanita. I agree with you.
      I am also very busy with my family responsibilities,my writing and my job. I also need to take better care of myself these days. (I have been neglecting myself and now I 'm paying the consequences of that with my own health).
      Have a wonderful time with your family!

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  11. I fully agree with you Julia. Spot on mate. We should try to focus on what we are writing more than anything else. Books can have huge sales, but does anyone actually get to the end of it? Simply because the book was not as good as they thought.
    Classic example was J K Rowling. It seems her work didn't go down as well before they knew who wrote it. Now, that was the real test.

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    1. Yes, of course.
      Now feel free to read what happened on Black Friday here in the United States. People died because of their obsession with numbers. They were fighting for "a good deal." This illustrates my post perfectly well. Is anybody listening?

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  12. Your post is very encouraging for me. I wrote a psychological suspense horror novel. It's not for everyone but I think horror enthusiast will like it.
    I feel my novel is no worse than some of what's out there.
    Even some of Stephen King's work can be silly at times. But who can compete with him?
    Rum-Punch Drunk "hit the nail on the head". Rowling's novel could not stand on its own merits.
    I'll definitely be following your blog.

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    1. Yes, John. There is a component of luck that leads to popularity, but I am sure there is a way to reach the audience you want to target...
      All the best with your novel, and welcome to my blog.

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