Quit Your Bellyaching

You know that thing the Universe does when you’ve been complaining about something, and it says, “Ha! That’s nothing!” then shows you an example of how it could be SO MUCH WORSE?

Well, the Universe did that when I was researching how exactly Don Quixote had been published (I thought the novel was serialized, and in a way it was, as it was published in two parts, but not like I thought, as in weekly increments). I’m reading Wikipedia (is there anywhere else to start your research?) and I came across this:

The novel was an immediate success. The majority of the 400 copies of the first edition were sent to the New World, with the publisher hoping to get a better price in the Americas. Although most of them disappeared in a shipwreck near La Havana, approximately 70 copies reached Lima, from where they were sent to Cuzco in the heart of the defunct Inca Empire.

No sooner was it in the hands of the public than preparations were made to issue derivative (pirated) editions.

Can you believe it? Cervantes waits years. He finally gets a book deal, but the publisher wants to make more money and decides to launch it way the hell across the water. How much worse can it get? Don’t ask. The ship carrying the books wrecks, Cervantes’ babies are lost. But, lo—success! The indomitable story cannot be sunk…but it can be pirated.

Thankfully, Cervantes had the last laugh. Don Quixote became the most translated book in the world, after the Bible. It has sold 500 million copies world-wide.

There may be hope for my work yet.


Cervantes, Don Quixote, Most translated book in the world, Movie Ideas

Comments (6)

  • And he should get paid from every Man of La Mancha production, too!
    I’m sorry I haven’t been reading your serialized novel. I’ve taken on so much lately, and when I do get a chance to read it’s on my back surrounded by three cats, holding a paperback, and on my way to snoring because I’ve made the mistake of waiting until late. I’m doing the Artist’s Way, and that has added too much to my plate. I am done with my excuses, but I wanted you to know it’s not your book which looks like great fun.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      Ha, ha—no worries about the novel. I almost feel guilty about how deeply I’m writing it for myself. If anyone reads it, that’s a win (though, of course, I harbor a secret hope an acquisitions editor will stumble across it and beg me to let her publish it 🙂
      But, this whole Cervantes story—I read that paragraph and thought: you have got to be kidding me. And it landed in the defunct Inca Empire—who was there? Had the Spanish much colonized it by then? Or did they give books to folks who couldn’t even speak Spanish?? I hope you enjoy the Artist’s Way. I very much did.

  • Ellen: the eternal optimist! Read your book “We R Righting Group.” I need to get with you and tell you about a veterans writing initiative I learned of while in Asheville, NC. Your book could be the ideal guide for that.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      Oh, that does sound perfect. This is our last week in Memphis—email me about your schedule. This makes me happy. 🙂

  • The caption for the picture made me laugh out loud! HIs story does show, though, that, once words get out into public, anything can happen! I often remind people that we never really know the impact our words, spoken or written, may have on others. Sometimes, when you might think that no one is listening, someone is taking it in. They may not get the message right away, but it can surface again at an appropriate time.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think your comments are wise ones to remember. I often feel as if I’m “talking into the void.” But you just never know.

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