The tree is up and decorated, the cards are written and posted, and the presents are bought and wrapped. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. All of this and the fact that and the shops are full of celebrity biographies. I have a real problem with celebrity biographies. I’m a firm believer that a biography (auto or otherwise) should be written when one reaches the autumn of ones years. How on earth can you reflect, contemplate, ruminate and ponder on a life until you have lived it? What wisdom do these people have to impart to us? For the most part it seems to be falling out of nightclubs, getting your photo taken by the paparazzi, and making obscene amounts of money for having sod all talent Not that I’m bitter at all you understand.
Are we really supposed to believe that many of these people have written the thrilling account of their lives so far themselves? When do they get the time? Finding your voice, developing your narrative, deliberating endlessly over one sentence or even word, spending days, weeks, months proof reading and editing to try and get your work as perfect as you can takes an incredible amount of time; as many of you reading this know only too well. I guess if you want to be famous for being famous your ego will naturally assume that the public want to read every little minute, mundane detail about your life. And, for the most part, it seems they’re right. Otherwise, why would publishers be falling over themselves to get these literary delights into the bookshops for Christmas?
The worst culprits of this, I think, are the professional writers; the journalists and comics. These are people who make a more than decent living from writing, but it appears that some of them are tempted by the lure of fame and fortune to churn out an autobiography or two long before they get their bus passes. You would think they would know better and want to produce something that will stand the test of time. Not something that’s going to be read once and then dumped in the next charity shop bag that’s posted through their readers door.
You would think that the professional writers would want to be an ‘and’; not a bargain bucket writer. An old friend and work colleague once explained to me what an ‘and’ was. You know when you watch a TV drama and a gifted actor plays a small role. The role isn’t big enough to warrant a name check in the ‘starring’ credits. His or her name is only listed in the ‘also’ section. Except, this actor is so talented at his craft that he isn’t mentioned in the ‘also’ section. His credit is under the title ‘and’. That is when you know you have made it.
So please, if you are thinking about buying a loved one a book for Christmas, and you decide on a biography, make sure it is one that it is written by someone who has indeed lived a life. That it imparts wisdom and is inspirational to the receiver. Let it teach the reader something different, beautiful and important about the world we live in. Make sure it will be taken down and read again and again over the coming years. After all, a book should be for life, not just for Christmas.