Sunday, May 31, 2015

Publishing, Snobbery, and Me

*This post started as a comment on Paul E Cooley's essay Snobbery and Reality, and then it kind of ran away with itself. Please, read the original essay.*

I've been a literary snob for as long as I've been reading and it got worse when I started "seriously" writing. The dream was to write an important piece of literature that would allow me to live off royalties long enough for me to write my next American Classic. Oh, and I was supposed to do all of this by 25.

Growing up a book nerd there was something special about publishing houses. They were these magical kingdoms full of people who believed in your genius and lived to spread your work throughout the lands. They were your biggest fans and they made sure you got lots of money and a pony. A pony is very important for a writer.

At least that's what they were in my head. And I held on to that part of the dream for so long that I started to lose sight of the real dream. When I was 8, sitting up all night, writing an incredibly naive novel, I wasn't doing it for financial security or prestige, I was writing because for some reason my little brain felt compelled to tell stories. As I learned more about how books were made, it made sense to focus on getting published because that was the way to get your stories to readers. It was the only way- at first. But by the time the internet became a thing, and self publishing exploded all over it, I was completely absorbed by my literary snobbery. I was a "real" writer. "Real" writers didn't need to self publish. I hadn't published anything myself but I felt superior to those that were doing it all on their own. I pitied their efforts.

I was a jackass.

It took me years to realize that though. Years to get to a place where I didn't pity self-published and small house/indie published writers, but admired them. And started to consider becoming one of them.

Now I want 2 things for my writing:

1 I want it get to readers who will love/need/appreciate it.
2 I want the possibility of making money.

The rest is just bows and ribbons.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Can I Just Quit My Job And Read All The Time? Please?

I'm standing in Barnes and Noble with a $50 gift card and a basketful of difficult decisions. Not all of us are going to make it out of here alive and I am beginning to think that I'm less likely to survive than the battered copy of the latest Barbara Kingsolver I keep vacillating about.

The one easy decision is How to Be a Heroine: Or, what I've learnedfrom reading too much. At 20% off it is roughly the same price I'd find on Amazon and well I mean, it just kind of feels like it was written FOR me.

I put FlightBehavior back on the shelf, which should give me a sense of relief but somehow only serves to make the next decision weigh more heavily on my soul. Shit's about to get real.

A $6.95 hardcover of Zadie Smith's NW is in my basket, and I decide will remain in my basket, because I want it on my bookshelf next to On Beauty (which was also a bargain shelf must buy because Zadie Smith novels are supposed to be on my bookshelf; I was an English major.) I still haven't read On Beauty but apparently that isn't enough to dissuade me in my quest of deluding myself about my literary prowess.

I am now holding an apocalyptic YA novel because that is what 30-something women actually read these days. The fact that I am more drawn to this novel than the made for grown-ups, literary fiction I was just contemplating feels a little wrong for a little while but then I read the first two pages of Grasshopper Jungle and good, honest writing is good honest writing, I don't care what demographic it's written to. I put it back though, telling myself I'll use some of the Amazon rewards points I have been hoarding like a crazy coupon lady to buy it when I'm done with the book I'm currently reading.

This month's issue of BUST also makes the cut because I haven't splurged on a magazine in a while and, like the tall black boots I am wearing that give me a thrill because they are tall and black and I can successfully zipper them over my calves, it makes me feel cooler than I actually am.

Exhausted and on the verge of a panic attack I head to the register before I can change my mind. Again.