The Book Job is a Hard Job, According to The Simpsons Anyway

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Gotta love the Ocean’s Eleven reference

I’m just going to come out and say it: writing a novel is hard work. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t seen the sixth episode of the twenty-third season of The Simpsons. Originally aired on November 20, 2011, “The Book Job” satirizes the publishing industry and reveals how dirty it really is. Even though the episode is over 3 years old, it is still my favorite to date. It’s the first time I saw an honest–albeit satirized–depiction of how the publishing industry really works and realized how challenging writing for a living could be.

Hello, J.K. Rowling

In this episode, Lisa discovers one of her favorite authors, T. R. Francis (cough, J. K. Rowling) is just an actress the book publishing company used for the jacket photo and that all popular YA novels are conceived by book publishing executives to make money. She doesn’t believe writing should be about money and decides to write her own novel, one readers can relate to. However, she is constantly distracted and fails to write even on sentence.

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In his attempt to make money writing a novel, Homer discovers the true joy of creativity and the value of group-writing

Meanwhile, Homer decides to get rich by writing a fantasy novel of his own. He recruits a team consisting of Bart, Principal Skinner, Moe Szyssalk, Patty Bouvier, Professor Fink, and author Neil Gaiman, all of whom bring their own unique experiences and talents to the project. For example, Patty is a fantasy fiction fan who can also speak different fictional languages and Moe has already published some children’s books.

After a short montage, the novel is complete, and they sell it to a book publishing executive for one million dollars. Later, they discover that the executive has replaced their main characters with vampires because vampires are more popular. The team breaks into the publishing headquarters to replace the new novel with their old version before it can be printed. Things get a little crazy from there.

Here’s what I took away from this episode:

  • Writing a novel is hard work!
  • Most writers are not committed enough to succeed at writing.
  • Group-writing is a great idea!
  • Traditional publishing is corrupt:(
  • It takes more than good intentions to write a novel.
  • Writing’s not about making money; it’s about the creative process.
  • Self-publishing might be the way to go;)
  • Neil Gaiman is a sneaky con-artist.

Okay, nix the last one, but the other points are valid. Writing is hard work and can be made easier with the contributions of other talented people. It doesn’t have to be a frustrating and lonely process. Also, saying you’re a writer, doesn’t make you a writer. Isn’t that right, Lisa Simpson?

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**Shakes head**

I am embarrassed to say, when that episode first came out, I was just like Lisa Simpson, wanting to write a novel, trying to write a novel, and failing miserably at it. I even took my laptop to a coffee shop in the pathetic hope that feeling like a “real” writer would make me one. Of course it didn’t work. The only way to become a “real” writer is to write something and share it with the world. That I know now.

If you haven’t seen the episode, check it out. It’s an eye-opener. If nothing else, it’s worth a laugh.

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4 thoughts on “The Book Job is a Hard Job, According to The Simpsons Anyway

  1. My kids have a lot of the Simpsons seasons on DVD. I’ll have to check that one out if they have it.

    Writing is hard work, no doubt, and if we wait for inspiration to strike, we’ll be facing a lot of empty pages. It takes commitment. It takes sitting down and working on the manuscript when it’s the last thing we want to do. One of my favorite quotes is by author Wayson Choy (and others have said similar statements): “The only secret to writing is AC: Ass on Chair.”

    • Yes, check it out. It’s so relatable. It was probably one of the best episodes of the season, entertainment wise.

      I love the quote. Thanks for sharing. I know I’ve heard it before but it’s sooo true.

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