How to Write What Matters

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Article-1179154-04DC27E3000005DC-467_468x347 People still ask if I'm doing okay and I tell them I've never been happier. Sure, we're starting to recognize the gray insides of the silver lined clouds, but mostly, we're amazingly okay despite my decision not to return to analog publishing. 

Speaking of old publishing, feast your eyes on these libraries.

Oh, where will we bookies be in 20 years?

Incidentally, being let go in a big corporate layoff is a pretty good way to go, given the alternatives. But I've chosen to embrace the change and take my opportunity to move into the digital age. And I'm not concerned with the destruction of print so much as I am with the destruction of great writing.

I suppose in some ways I’m just more proof of the publishing implosion, the faint whispers of hope turning to rumors of impending doom. But I don't believe that. Publishing is alive and well; it just doesn't look the same as it used to. And I'm excited about the future books and what will emerge in the newly democratized land of the free.

And there's even a team spirit in the air, a widespread group of dreamers taking up the colossal fight to pull together and keep believing in great books. Part of our hope is that books can be created, shepherded, published and sold in ever more ways. And knowing that creating books is such a valiant, incredibly difficult battle, we're excited because it also makes for close friendships and complementary shaping. All of us may have different battles in this glorious fight for books and we all meet it in different ways. But we're exactly the same in heart and spirit.

The cause will go forward.

And as much as everything has changed, nothing is any different in the deep abiding love writers and book people have for great books. We may whine about how difficult it is to produce a respectable, not to mention decent-selling, book. And if you're a new author, your chances of being respected, let alone rewarded and allowed to grow are rather small even as the current publishing system expands.

It will always matter who you are and who you know.

But important books are still published every day, many by top traditional houses, some by boutique imprints, and even in the self-publishing sphere. And there are many excellent fresh voices among them. Not nearly enough. But again, that's what makes the fight so rewarding.

One characteristic anyone associated with this industry has is a joy for, or at least a pride in the struggle for books, fighting off myriad disappointments while clinging to dwindling shreds of sanity and perpetual hurry-sickness and information-saturation. I love my incredibly talented and principled friends who keep their corners of this industry pumping. And I see how their dedication involves difficult trade-offs and I hurt with them.

It matters what you write. It really does. It makes all the work worthwhile, in the end. These books that require so much more than one person to be born, if writers could only see how many hopes and dreams ride on them, maybe they'd dedicate more readily, more completely. Maybe they'd hold off accepting someone's offer to publish it before it's been critiqued and edited by someone beyond Mom and Aunt Hazel. Maybe their book would outlast the others being written that are too much like it and don't really speak of the deeper truth inside that will go unrealized and unnoticed.

Cue the ominous music…

Meanwhile, I remain hopeful that the support in bookland is there, and we're all continuing to believe and fight together.

 

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3 thoughts on “How to Write What Matters”

  1. Ooooooh yes. God thinks too highly of the written word to let it die in a heap of decaying paper and bindings. He started this whole thing with his firery finger on the tablets. The same way he burns the words into our hearts – words that must be read, said and remembered. We must continue to support each other and keep an open mind to all our options for publication. Really good post, Mick.

  2. Great post, Mick. In the end readers want stories. Yes, the digital age is like going from oral stories to having them printed–big shift–but in the end when a story sticks with you, it’s hard to remember if you read in in DT format, on an e-reader, or listened to it on CD. It’s still about about, and always will be about story.

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