Thursday, April 9, 2015

FROM BLOGGERS TO WRITERS

When I started my Cockeyed Pessimist blog at the end of 2008 with two postings, my intentions were to do a posting each month. This worked out well for two years with 13 postings in 2009 and 11 more in 2010. But the numbers kept sliding down: seven in 2011, six in 2012, and seven more for each of the following two years. 62 postings in all with 95,000 overall viewers.

So why the slow-down? Too many other things to attend to as a publisher, not wanting to duplicate issues I addressed before, and tired of getting involved in partisan conflicts pro-or-con about Amazon, the five huge conglomerates (I think we’re down to four now) who dominate the industry, and some subtle and not so subtle belly-aching about falling print coverage in magazines and newspapers in general, and inadequate review coverage for our prize-winning authors.

But immediately after my April 2nd blog about Sheila Deeth and on-line bloggers in general, a new door opened, and it started with the comments of Eleanor Lerman, whose novel Radiomen we published in January. Why not change the tenor of the cockeyedpessimist and open a door for others in the industry to discuss the challenges they face, be they writers, editors, publicists, agents, scouts or professional critics, and share their predilections and passions with one another? As a publisher, a major concern of ours is our writers, but it is also exciting to introduce all concerned to one another. We've already been in touch with an exceptional agent, Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, and Iris Hsieh, another excellent person, who is a scout at Aram Fox. Both will be contributing to the next few blogs. This cross-fertilization will, hopefully, benefit many, and make it possible to provide something new on a weekly (or at the latest bi-weekly) basis.


So without further delay, here is the email I received from Eleanor, who expressed feelings of injustice that I too have shared along the way. And just as I learned more about Sheila and her thinking, I've learned more about Eleanor and how her mind works.


Dear Marty:

Thanks for sharing your April 2 column. It is critical to realize how important online blogs and publishing venues have become. Of course, the underlying issue here is that writers, critics, bloggers, etc.—as well as publishers, of courseall have to deal with the difficulty of earning a living doing the work they love.  I know that what I viewed as a terrible injustice when I was young (oh, poor me, I used to think!)—that I had to have a job while I did my writing at night—is now something I am lucky to understand without any kind of pain: it is just unlikely that anyone except the top tier of commercial writers are going to be able to support themselves with their art. But that's fine for me since I've long made peace with that idea and since I ended up going my own way, anyway. I write what interests me and when things don't get published, I just go on to the next project. This is especially true of my short fiction, which I always have trouble finding venues for except that suddenly, I am getting published a lot, and with ease, in online zines where no one is making a penny, not even the editors.  I guess it depends on what one wants out of their work. As I've mentioned to you before, I am ambitious and black-hearted when it comes to trying to gain recognition and all that kind of thing but I also know when to be grateful. And I am grateful when anyone, such as you and Judy, take the chance to showcase my work.

So, you've hit on a very important subject in your column and one that deserves much further conversation in the writing community. Poets, in particular, know how important online sources for publishing and review have become.  I am reading a book right now called "My Life in Ruins," which is about archeologists, and it seems they are in the same boat—most of them can't get jobs, can't pursue a career that they've invested years and money in preparing themselves for in terms of education and getting advanced degrees. They, however, don't have the advantage of the kind of robust online community that exists for writers so it has been interesting to read about another profession where effort and passion can go commercially unrewarded so you have to find ways to reward yourself.

Eleanor  www.eleanorlerman.com


IN CLOSING: If you are part of the book business mentioned above and want to participate in this planned on-going weekly blog, do let me hear from you and what you’d like to contribute to the discussion. I also hope you will sign up to join this site (easy to do if you have a google account) as a follower, so that you will automatically receive the new blogs as they are posted.

Marty

3 comments:

  1. I shall definitely plan to read weekly. And I value Eleanor's reminder that dreaming too big is just dreaming, so let's stay awake and enjoy what we have.

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  2. In the early 1970s, when feminism was just gaining steam as a movement, I had a big fight--which I've written about--with Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde and Alice Walker when we were all nominated for fancy poetry prize. They said whoever won the prize should refuse it because we lived in a patriarchal society, men were in charge of literature and kept women out, etc. I was 21 and feisty; I said nope, if I won the award (which I did not) I would take the cash because my problem wasn't men, it was money because poets never made any. They still don't. All these years later, I'm still fond of men and wish I had more money, but the work goes on. It's still a struggle and rejections still sting, but, as Leonard Cohen said, "During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep...and all my work goes well."

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  3. A wise man once told me that the great reward of writing is not in reader recognition or professional accolades. It's the process itself. So many talented people who aspire to write, who have great ideas, simply lack the time or energy to execute them. Their lives are overfilled with other demands. Whether I sell many books or few, I relish the blessing of being able to practice my craft, to actually sit down and create something out of nothing, when so many others far more worthy than I are denied that luxury.

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