Saturday, April 13, 2013

Writing Means Never Having to Say your Sorry. Really?

Being a writer is tough. Everyone knows the hazards of being the lone writer locked in a world of imaginary constructs for hours at a time, closed off from ordinary contacts with human beings in order to cultivate the tools of the trade. These are very real sacrifices that take a toll on a life. The impact of books in our culture is so huge, that millions of people are willing to take that route, seeing it as a noble calling. But is it worth it? What if your impact is so minimal that it is barely measurable? Is there some metaphysical trade-off that you can point to and claim as a reward? That's a question that every writer must answer for him or herself.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money," said Boswell. And it was a quote I always liked. But now, as it becomes clearer that writers along every path of the trade are looking at diminishing streams of income and the near Sisyphean task of making a living from their work, either original or of a journalistic bent, I wonder what other writers are telling themselves as they struggle in their dingy lofts or plush caves. For me, it has been years since I contemplated writing as anything other than something I did to keep myself sane, to keep my instincts and perceptions sharp in the world of humdrum adult responsibilities and routines, and if I ever managed to knock it out of the park by selling my work to the remote, big league universe of New York publishers, well, that was a nice dream to take out and burnish once in a while like a remnant, a childhood bauble, but not something to take seriously and plan a life around. It was just too random, the touch of literary success. And now that the demise of the mainstream publishers is on everyone's lips, there is a new phenomenon, the rise of the self-publishing route to financial sustainability, to inflame the writer's ambitions for worldly recognition. Real or just Memorex - a replay of the mirage of the old school dreams that writers of my generation, that would be the generation somewhere this side of the Boomers but pre-GenXers, used to gather around before it shattered like the vase in the commercial. The cynic in me says it's just another cyclical gold rush, to the benefit of the few lucky or quick enough to draw off the sap before it dries up.  The rest of us will do what we have always done, continue to struggle to hone craft and refine our stories, and that hard work is our calling and reward. And in case anyone is interested, here is my contact information:

Anthony Caplan, Author!/AnthonyCaplan1
Post a Comment