Free-For-All Friday

Posted by on Oct 17, 2008 in Writing | 7 comments

(What is this? My very own meme, which could take the form of other Friday memes out there — random five or ‘fessing up — or non-Friday memes, or anything! Point being to have a little fun and get a little interactive.)

 

Two items I ran across that made me uneasy: This goes to the state of the publishing biz and our lot as novelists within it.

The Independent carried a piece about how novelists are under pressure to “dumb down” so as to appeal to a wider readership. It could be that publishers are rebranding certain authors more commercially — I call this the cult of personality in action — rather than let their work stand on its own.

Granted, these novelists stand to gain in the moulah-department if the publishers succeed in the marketing “remarketing.” But, I ask you, would you really want to see Cormac McCarthy rebranded as a thriller or action writer?

Simiilarly, The Guardian ran a piece about authors as “branding machines.” I’m going to quote a portion, because, for me, it says it all:

“…the obsession with “branding” authors is threatening to hamper new talent. Writing a book a year is the absolute minimum for an aspiring genre novelist, and this treadmill approach allows no let-up. Will new crime writers get the freedom of say, Dennis LeHane, Thomas Harris and James Ellroy to write the books they want, when they want? Or will they be squeezed out by rivals willing to fire off three or four books a year to establish themselves?”

Seems to me this scenario is pertinent to most novelists, not only crime writers. What are your thoughts?

An item that made me think: Sometimes another blogger’s pearl of wisdom takes me by surprise. One wee sentence on Quantum Storytelling’s blog was a welcome slap in the face: “Procrastination is caused by indecision.”

We could discuss whether procrastination is always caused by indecision, but, in point of fact, when I read that statement I realized that my procrastination of past weeks had indeed been caused by indecisiveness! Yowza. I outlined my tangled thoughts in a post last week. This week I decided to tackle point number one from that post (finish a revision). Low and behold, this week my work routines settled back into their good groove.

And, an item that made me smile: A writers-retreat-friend is doing well for himself these days. His name is Eldon Thompson, and he writes epic fantasy. I enjoyed perusing his website this week — and I’m happy for him. The bit that made me smile came out of an interview. He said this:

“…Most importantly, perhaps, it has taught me to simplify things—to toss out ideas that are too complex and to really focus on the emotional response of characters to whatever obstacles are thrown at them.”

I smiled because I tend toward too much complexity in my first drafts. Glad to know that I’m not the only one that’s learned a few lessons around this!

7 Comments

  1. Hey! this is very cool, a “custom” blog. Can I copy? will try it tomorrow a.m. (fave writing time lately altho’ it’s dark – ugh).

  2. Sure, copy away! I’ll check out your post!

  3. There are things about the publishing industry that I hope stay “old.”
    1) Publishing quality work from a quality author is one of them. Pop trash is pop trash but rebranding and forcing book minimums would be disaster.
    2) Editors who work with writers. Forget it; I’m skunked. I’d like the greed factor to be kept at bay. There are plenty of people, plenty of tastes, plenty of writers. Likely good writers; even blogs prove that. But let’s not water everyone down. There are the watered ones out there already; you can read a danielle steele a day – and there’s nothing wrong with that. but don’t turn Tobias Wolffe and Annie Proulx into dime novelists.
    3) the long process to get to publishing. It weeds out the weak of heart and of pen.
    4) the amazing work, the needle in the haystack that pops up suddenly on everyone’s radar, like sarah gruen’s book and well, a host of other surprises. Writing however is not a machine. While some are formulaic, I can only say, that’s fine, don’t rush, don’t rush.
    5) ethics.

    I’m kind of overreacting to the greed factor overall right now given the economy and various other “climates.’ Oh, to keep the writing and publishing world pristine! or, sort of. Let’s try.

    Now, I’ve ranted and likely not even answered the question.

  4. I hear you on this rant! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great Friday meme! An item that makes you uneasy, an item that makes you think, and an item that makes you smile? I may want to join in if I can get my act together…

  6. >“…the obsession with “branding” authors is threatening to hamper new talent

    Its not at the publishing houses. The furor over Schmidt’s solution ot the “internet cesspool” was “brands” which means characterization, and constraint. While I’m all for focus, the sound I hear is fear from institutions pulling up the drawbridge.

    I wrote about it here…

    http://dougist.com/index.php?p=45

    Doug
    http://www.dougist.com

  7. Hi dougist, thanks for the info!

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