Friday, September 21, 2012

Mammon and the Storyteller: I Just Want To Write, Dammit!

I'm in danger of becoming a blog-whiner, one of my least favorite species.  Truly.  When I read a blog, I don't want to read about somebody whining over their day or apologizing for neglecting the blogosphere.  Yet here I am preparing to whine, yet again, about the social media flood and its stagnation-inducing effect on my writing.  Blogs and book giveaways and raffles and memes and e-book releases and cover reveals.  I feel like such a dinosaur.  I don't have time for that stuff.  I just want to write, dammit.

And if I should ever manage to get an agent or a publisher interested in my stuff, God forbid they wander over to this whiney rant born of a sad little neglected blog.  "What do we want with her?" they may say.  "All she wants to do is write.  Writers are a dime a dozen.  We don't need more writers.  We need marketers."  That's the message I'm getting these days.

As for self-publishing in the brave new world of the digital age, how is it any better than the old version of self-publishing?  You have to fork over a bundle of money (it's a bundle by my standards) for editors and cover art and all those important extras that will make you competitive.  I don't see that as much of an improvement over the days of vanity presses.  Yes, you control it, but you're still paying for it.

We human beings are driven to tell stories, I guess.  Tell them and write them.  But selling them?  That's a different animal.  The days of the tribal storyteller as a combination entertainer and shaman are gone.  Money has changed the storyteller's role forever.  Look at Hollywood.  How can the spirit that is meant to reflect on the deeper elements of human existence survive in the competitive commercial world?  Perhaps that is why so many artists end up screwed up, addicted, depressed, lost.  We're turning shamans into slaves, trained monkeys and prostitutes.

Oh, how very dark I'm being tonight!

Maybe I should be rejoicing in the notion that the human race is embracing its literary drive.  Maybe it's a good thing, everyone pouring their thoughts into words, this massive output of creative energy.  Afterall, some terrific creative work continues to emerge from all of this.  Have we human beings in the digital age become our own version of the old fable about the monkeys typing Shakespeare?    


  1. "All my feels," as the kids are saying these days!

    Speaking of kids, I think of what you're saying here in much the same vein as the college-hopeful students out there. "Why can't I just get really good grades? Why do I have to do eleventeen extracurriculars and win National Merit and neuter puppies at the soup kitchen?" ("Because, children," I say then, "this is what we call an artificial barrier to entry.")

    I think we've got an advantage over the students, though, because there's no single make-or-break moment in writing. You can rack up tons of "no" before you get a single "yes" - and more importantly, your first "yes" does not oblige or define your entire writing career. The ONE nice thing about this what we're doing is that even as overwhelming as it can be in total, it really just comes down to doing a little bit at a time - one page, one hour, one blog comment - and until you DO have a contract in hand, it's 100% self-paced. Thank God!

    1. "A little bit at a time" indeed. Thanks for providing some needed perspective.

  2. I just want to write, too! :)

    For some reason I feel like my goal of finishing a novel isn't about getting it published, but just to say I finished one. How sad is that? Plus writing on my blog takes away a lot of my spare time I have off after a full-time job and taking care of three dogs and a cat.

    I feel like there's no time form my writing with the exception of what I post to my blog.

    Hang in there and keep writing!

    1. Diane, you have a typo in your comment. Just saying.

    2. I don't think that's sad at all. In reading your comment, I realized that part of my challenge is remembering that there will always be new goals. When I hadn't finished a novel yet, my goal was to finish a novel. It seemed overwhelming. Then I did it, and learned so much. Then my goal was submitting it, and I did, and I learned. Then my goal was writing another one, and I did that. Then it was pitching, and on and on. So, I guess with each new milestone reached, I tend to set up a new goal to reach for. Maybe I need to take a little more time to celebrate reaching those milestones along the way. I think your goal of finishing a novel isn't sad but rather awesome. Let me know how you're progressing.


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