There was plenty of inspiration this year too.
What’s rather uninspiring is how the craft of writing raises the question of publishing, and a need to understand an industry that grants commercial success in seemingly equal measure to the Hemingways of this world as it does to the folks who continue to bring us vampire lit.
So, you know, there were moments at that conference that were less uplifting than others.
I blame all the schmoes who are supposed to be buying books, but are more interested in celebrity fat-shaming tabloid photos, or reality television.
It’s a depressing fact that fully one half of the adult population of the United States will not crack open a book this year. Fully a third of those probably still harbor a dream about penning the Great American Novel. Because writing is one of those things anyone could do if he really tried, right?
I mean, it ain’t rocket surgery.
Fortunately, that first, sad statistic does not apply to either of my kids – one of whom is a mildly enthusiastic consumer of the written word, especially with a book report due. Or when the wifi is down.
The other kid craves books like a pothead needs his Fritos.
But the two of them together can’t buoy the whole industry, even surrounded, as they are, by a whole lotta’ of other readers.
They don’t read everything, not even necessarily the stuff I write, though it’s as much for them as it is about them. But I know they crave stories about themselves in times they can’t remember, and about the people who shaped the reality they live in now.
We all crave connection. Even stories that aren’t about us tell us a little bit more about who we are by virtue of how we connect with them.
But still, why write? I have asked myself this. During the conference, it was also asked by an author I respect quite a lot, so I know I’m not alone.
In my case, it’s not driven by dreams of becoming a gajillionaire, inspiring a television series, a couple of book contracts or new sugar cereal.
Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the gajillionaire thing. Or the cereal thing for that matter.
So, then, why write?
Is it because what I produce might mean something to someone someday? That a great, great, grandsomething of mine might one day use it to pinpoint how the process of natural selection conspired to produce a bunch of weirdos in our family?
NOTE TO DESCENDANTS: Please be nice to weirdos, they might be your relatives. And take all this with a grain of salt. I’m mostly just trying to get a laugh… And save a buck on the meds I’d need if I didn’t write …
… Assuming you’re not dealing with a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world, rendering you more preoccupied with scrounging around for stuff to eat than with reading. And assuming that there’s still internet anyway …. and electricity … and all the computer stuff hasn’t been smashed …..
… Hang on [scribbles note to print hard copy blog entries for a binder…]
Anyway, without writing, the inside of my brain is a gelatinous jumble of random thoughts that occasionally squeeze their way to the front. Writing lets me examine and edit them (really, I do edit), before they manifest themselves in some other fashion.
It’s either this blog or interpretive dance.
No one needs interpretive dance.
But, to be honest, neither the legacy thing nor staving off the need for interpretive dance thing is enough. At least not for me.
A high point of the conference was a pitch session with an agent who listened patiently to the rushed synopsis of a book I’ve been working on.
And then she asked to see more.
And then I thought: Oh, crap. I am not really anywhere near being ready to show her more.
Which goes back to the whole why write question. It’s not about fame or fortune or Duck Dynasty or sugar cereal.
It’s about two kids who are today reading some of the very same stuff I loved at their age, who devour a book and then push it out to me and their dad and their grandma to read so we can all talk about it over dinner.
It’s about a desire that’s always been there to tell stories that stick, that are the subject of dinner table discussions for two kids and their overworked parents.
I’m working on a project for them. And it turns out it may be something others want to see as well.
That’s at least some of the “why” for me, not only because there’s a story in there, or maybe a few. It’s because there’s that “Oh My God you just have to read this” feeling that I love, and that my kids are beginning to relish, too.
And it’s because I’m grateful there are creative souls who don’t throw in the towel when they realize the odds against actually getting a book published and then actually getting it read are as daunting as they are.
It’s an example I hope to live up to myself.
Have you read this yet? An Evolution of Motion. Please visit and share!
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