So I was feeling the need/obligation to comment on this whole Zoella thing circling the internet the past few days.
Then I realized that my thoughts on the subject probably really aren’t that original.
And THEN I remembered it’s a free country, and I can torture you with them anyway if I want to. So here goes. First let me apologize if you don’t find them useful. But second, as a little disclaimer here, I fully admit I am not as educated as I should be on Zoe Sugg and her fellow vlogger ilk to really be commenting on any of this, but again…it’s a free country.
I’d never heard of Zoe Sugg—who goes by Zoella on her various channels—until a fellow author posted an article a couple days ago about how her novel, Girl Online, sold more copies in its first week than J.K. Rowling did of Harry Potter. And today it was revealed that book was ghostwritten and the subsequent gasps of shock and dismay ensued.
My first reaction was as follows: this surprised you? All you had to do was take a look at the About Me section on Zoella’s website to figure that one out. Apparently writing out ‘and’ is too much effort. So if you thought she was going to write her own book then the joke’s on you quite frankly.
Then I felt the urge to give her a little bit of the benefit of the doubt and at least pretend to put some effort into seeing what this girl is all about.
I wanted to hate her. Really I did, but I found it difficult as in every picture I found of her she’s smiling brightly and earnestly. I didn’t find not a single shot of her doing the ridiculous Kim Kardashian come f*ck me stare with hand on hip. I even only came up with one of her doing the equally (if not more so)as insanely irritating duck lips. And OK OK, so I only watched a couple minutes of like two of her videos, but I’m telling you it could have been a hell of a lot worse. She was somewhat articulate. I was particularly impressed with her use of the word “autumnal.”
Yes, I’m probably reaching here but she was for sure likeable, which brings me to my next point:
You have to give her SOME credit. The girl has MILLIONS of followers on social media, and say what you want but that does not happen by accident. Like I said, she’s likeable, relatable and is able to convey her opinions and suggestions via quick, fun, and very well lit videos. Bam. That a super-star does make sometimes, unfortunately, in this day and age. But again to play devil’s advocate, she offers quick respites for people (ahem, women) throughout their overly scheduled, overly taxing days, during which they’re craving just a few minutes of mindless matter. And if she’s been able to build up such a monstrous following off just that, then all the power in the world to her. I wish I could be so lucky (and so do the rest of you, stop pretending you’re above it.)
Perhaps that’s the real problem though: not that her novel was ghostwritten but that there are millions of girls out there thinking that they’ll be able to do the same thing Zoella’s done and make a living off of it. And they can’t.
Maybe a very small handful of them will be, but they’re the exception to the rule. And the NEW rule is that our world has completely devalued the art of writing. The only thing that matters now is the speed and effectiveness of how you disseminate information. Zoella is living proof of the latter. But because she didn’t sit down and write the novel from start to finish all by herself doesn’t mean she adds to the prior. I don’t think she got this far by claiming to be a writer-by-trade, vlogger-by-night.
And for Christ’s sake, did we all forget about the ghostwriter? Don’t knock it until you try it. I’ve been one and it’s actually a really fun exercise as a writer. It kind of asks you to act via the written word and take on a persona not your own (or that of your own characters and storylines). SOMEBODY wrote it. Maybe it wasn’t completely Zoella, but did anyone stop to think that maybe she’ll get there?
Hell, she catapulted herself into the spotlight, so stranger things have happened.
And furthermore, don’t feel bad for said ghostwriter. They knew exactly what they were doing and he/she is probably laughing all the way to the bank. Not as much as Zoella is, but there was definitely a snicker or two involved.