"On the desolate beach that is the lot of the contemporary book reader, the footprints of one companion can still be found. They belong to the writer, who needs the reader not just to pay her or his wages but also to give meaning to their words. As John Cheever put it: “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”"
Here’s the conundrum: Let Amazon publish everything (even all the shitty books, of which there are many) or let Big Publishing be more selective and only publish the best.
It may be my age (I’ll be 38 in February), but I remember a time when you worked you ass off to be the best or at least in top 25% of the best. Why is there anything wrong with that? Martin Scorsese didn’t just spring from a the flower of his mother’s loins, a genius. He worked and studied and honed his craft. Virginia Wolfe spent countless years studying the world and her mind, in a room of her own, before it drove her mad, in order to write a sentence, or a paragraph, or volume. Walt Whitman was persecuted and ridiculed. Toni Morrison wrote about suffering on the wings of poetry. Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Nin, Tolstoy — geniuses, wordsmiths, professionals. Many of the above even self-published: Whitman, Nin, Wolfe, but they didn’t do it until they were ready. They didn’t just throw a pile of schlock filled paragraphs with really bad formatting, grammatical, and structural mistakes (I’m talking at you E.L. James) out into the world to make a quick buck.
Words used to be used to teach, love, bring light to the darkness surrounding us/blinding us (slavery, immigration, abuse, mental illness, politics), to educate us, and yes, to entertain us. Now the publishing machine is equivalent to a well-oiled laundering operation.
The longer we allow junk in, the more junk we will become (you are what you eat). Let’s bring back competition. Harvard allows in 20% more students than they used. There is no need to drop our standards in the book world, just because the people have grown ignorant. Screw the ‘platform’. Screw Facebook. Sit down, monkeys, and work at your craft. Stop half-assing everything and spend a few precious moments away from social media to give a damn about the power of art.
Let the Publishing companies be choosy. It’s their fucking right. And they were right, by the way. And if they choose you, feel good. Feel elated that you were the top of the crop. You worked hard to get there. Be proud. Have pride.
(Also know that the occasional ‘memoir’ from Snooki is going to pop up, but the sales from that book, gave you your bonus, editing, and marketing budget. Deal with it. Snooki made you money and now YOU make you money.)
Please stop publishing crap.
Mel Robertson, a now patient, diligent, and learned writer who previously chose to self-publish a piece of crap before it was ready to go out into the world.
Happy Sunday, ya’ll