March 29, 2011 by Marcus Speh
there’s a number of issues on my mind right now: more than an update’s in the oven. as usual, i won’t be able to do justice to them all, but i’ll try. (after all, i’m saving energy by avoiding upper case letters. i’m not just being precious, i’m being carbon footprint conscious…)
take a look at exhibit no. 1: the mechanical typewriter. comparing it to what i’m doing right no, in this very minute, the gap between 1876 (when this beauty was manufactured) and 2011 is considerable. check it out – right now:
- i am reaching out to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people while warming my feet on a buckwheat pillow at home. the sun is shining, too, which makes me happy, but that, really, is unrelated to this post. you’ll be visiting & reading this later, your own face in the sun, your feet on whatever you put your feet on. whatever goes on, you are where you are and i am where i am. you’re never more than a few seconds away.
i’m reading up on one of the things that occupied me lately – how writers can find [more] readers and make a living writing while the publishing industry flaps its tattered wings helplessly though they’re trying in the light of changing fortunes. reading the brilliant, shiny dialog by slightly self-obsessed, money-oriented writers like eisler and konrath, who however speak important truths (though they do they their merry time getting there). Writers who are up to something which has been in the air for a long time though it took young, daring, soft-spoken amanda hocking to bring it out in the open in a big way garnering world-wide attention: self-publishing is no shame, it’s the way to go. the consultants to the publishing industry are listening, too. they begin to realize that this revolution is actually not about the e-book per se, but it’s about the fact that… publishers are starting to need authors more than authors need publishers. (Eisler). that’s why exhibit no. 2 is the publisher with egg on his face. so much egg that you hardly recognize the poor publisher.
at yet another place, fictionaut, ann bogle, sam rasnake and james lloyd davis have started WAG–Writers Across Genres as a community of writers focusing on how to turn this new situation into an organisation that can support authors better than traditional associations can or do. anybody interested in joining, e-mail to ann (yes, you evil spam bot, of course this e-mail is protected, what were you thinking? were you thinking we don’t know how to use technology? if you clicked on the link: this recaptcha is a great example for apps that solve real problems while letting you play a simple recognition game– in this case, digitization of books. games – like farmville – are among the things WAG might look at to carve out that new place in the sunshine for writers…) or come straight to our new community site. exhibit no. 3 shows the prairie dog, a frugal yet fiercely survivalist little animal.
i’m dwelling on my joy that my daughter, shortly before she had to go to bed, could see me read a few stories live from home. the entire show “this berlin life-live!” was streamed to people’s desktops or to their beds. in a sportsbar in mexico city, joe looked up from his burrito and smiled at one of the stories. on the beach in sydney, karen, enjoying the autumn sun, shook her head when i read “le sucre brun”. when kim yaged read “jews in berlin”, a priest in poland nodded and had a new idea for his next sermon. when paula, bert, nancy, nate and jake read stories by paula, bert, nancy, nate and matt, other things happened elsewhere. “streaming” is not only a process, it’s a metaphor for global connectedness, too. i like that. it was a special show. exhibit no. 4 is charlie your inner tramp, who’d love to have had this technology to be broadcast to the end of the earth. (unrelated but adorable: check out charlie’s legs over at the kaffe, prose by shelagh chopra.)
i’m so relieved to have finished my novella and submitted it on time even though i could have used another week, month or year to edit it. the process that invariably happens with anything i write has already begun: the piece drifts away from me. when i look at it a few days after i finished it, i already like it a little more (as if someone else had written it), a few weeks later and i could convince myself that this was by another author and actually quite good. and so on until the child is all grown up, walks on its own and talks on its own. according to exhibit 4, your creative work cannot both grow up and remain as close as it once was, a boil on your brain, ham from your hip.
only a few weeks ago i realised something that for me, who always tried to do everything, be everyone to myself and to others, is profound and important: the person who writes; the person who reads; the person who comments on your writing; the person who sells something you wrote and the person who networks with others – these are four (or more) different people! it is crazy to ask of yourself to be more than one of these at once (or even at all). yet, writers all over the place seem to berate themselves for not being all-singing-all-dancing writing-selling-networking-publishing businesses. it’s partly the fault of technology: it suggests that, because you sit in front of a neat dashboard with a lot of buttons and potential power, you should be able to do it all. it’s not true though. do what you’re best at first (or rather, what you really enjoy doing). anything above that is a godly gift. exhibit 6 is my response to unkind pressure on myself.
… but that’s enough of me and this messy social media upgrade exhibition, which isn’t an “app” – no automatic answers to this business of writing and publishing, but some good trends, technologies and temptations. be tired now.
cheers & thanks for reading
– Marcus Speh.