I just finished reading the NYT Magazine article about how James Patterson no longer writes his own books, but does the outlines and hires different co-writers. He does credit the other writers, and he probably does pay them handsomely, but the whole thing is coiled up in my stomach like bad diner food.
Because I'm a novelist and I know so many novelists, I'm well aware of all the adjectives that go along with being a writer--despair, anxiety, worry, fear, obsession, exhilaration and privilege. It IS a privilege to be a writer, to get to enter those worlds and create something new, to tunnel into other lives and produce what you hope is art. Patterson cheerfully admits he does not write anymore but only outlines, and says he has no interest to do anything different, that this is simply too much fun.
I don't know if readers care one way or another. Maybe they simply want a read that's wonderful to them and it doesn't matter who wrote it. I know I would mind and though I've never read any Patterson before, I now never will, simply because the whole thing seems so distasteful to me. I realize many books are ghostwritten, but that's usually because the person can't write--he or she needs someone to finesse the ideas. But Patterson began as a writer, so this smacks of something quite different.
Sigh. If there were really a key to Writerland, I'd want him to return his. He puts a bad spin of the profession. He denigrates the hard work all the rest of us do. If I had to put up my own co-writers, I'd think they would be Anxiety, Depression, Obsession, and yes, exhilaration.