I want to touch upon this topic and pose the question to those of you who read my blog and are also writers.
So many of you as writers speak about agents and publishers, and the challenge of finding someone to carry your work. I hear the discouraging tales of talented writers who are lost in the mill and the common quote that you are never really a writer until you can paper your wall with rejection letters.
My father always said that getting any where in life required hard work, and he was right… sort of. But he wasn’t completely right. In fact, if I have learned anything in my 40 or so years of slogging it out in the world, working hard can be a short and fast ticket to hell in the trenches. Working smart, that is really the ticket, and to work smart, sometimes you have to lean on your shovel, look up from the trench, and see the world around you for what it really is.
Sure, I want to be a published writer one day and I would love to have my work proudly displayed in Chapters among the literary greats… but really, is that what it is all about? Does having my name lining shelves in book stores really fulfill my dreams? Is it any better or different than the rejection letters that paper my walls? At least I read the rejection letters, but there is no guarantee that anyone will really read my book, published or not.
No… no, I want people to hear what I have to say and maybe something I say will cause them to act, or change or maybe just think; thinking would be okay too.
Take my world: I am a University student, a mother of a one-year-old and a twelve-year-old, a working consultant, a social entrepreneur promoting ALS awareness and I write. Do you think I have time to read a book?
Hell no! I haven’t read a book (that wasn’t a university text book) in more than a year, and the few books I did read were by Mitch Albom: engaging and delightfully brief.
So where do I go for my enlightenment and entertainment?
Here of course… online. I download audio books through itunes and audible.com and I listen while I am walking the dogs. I bought an adapter for my I-phone so I can listen while I drive too and from basketball and band practice. I listen through my computer while I get ready in the morning and I read on my iphone at night in the living room while my husband watches television. It allows me to remain engaged without isolating myself from the family, which seems to appease everyone.
The Ipad and Kindle are just the beginnings of a wave that has been coming for years, and it is a really, really big wave people. In five or ten years we may be looking at an entirely new and adaptable form of literature, and the traditional methods of publishers and agents will be a secondary and antiquated method of information sharing. If you do not believe this is possible, keep in mind that prior to the printing press, writing was an art form left to the masters and literacy was limited to the elite and the clergy. The printing press made it available to the masses, and the need for literacy was a product of that availability.
A similiar and more recent analogy would be the television. Prior to the television, people relied on radio and books for information and for story-telling. While I still love the old radio shows, there is an entire generation in the world today who have never heard of the Green Hornet radio show. I am not even sure many houses have a radio anymore. Television dominates most family rooms, and movie nights are spent at home with popcorn rather than in crowded movie theatres. Technology is like a pebble in the pond and how the ripples develop and change our world is always a bit of an unknown, even to the so called “experts”.
In summary, I am thinking and looking beyond the world of the publisher and the agent and wondering just how and where my writing will be found. I am also asking you as writers, have you taken the time to look up from the trenches lately? If you haven’t, you should. There is a new technology looming and it is one that you should really know about. Must run! Children to pick up!