Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So Many Words. But...

by Elizabeth

Ever on the cutting edge, I raced over to the closest bookstore yesterday to pick up a copy of...The Hunger Games. Yup, just like when I read the first Harry Potter book, I stepped up to the table mere days before pandemonium takes over the multi-plex. I consulted with the other mothers with pre-teen Women (ha ha ha), and Pamela and Susan agreed: read it first, then decide if your 11-year-old can take it. My 13-year-old son gets first dibs, though. My whole family is a bit late to the party this time.

But it's serendipitous, maybe, that I put off buying and reading this trilogy so long. Because had I not, I wouldn't have been at my local big box at the same moment that nice woman was, and we might not have had our very pleasant conversation about writing and publishing and the state of the world.

If you read this blog regularly, you probably realize each of the six of us has the stage about twice a month. If we have something urgent to say, it could be more. (I will admit to more than once scrambling to meet my deadline, knowing how welcome a "would you mind if I publish this interview on your day?" email would be.) Which means that about 26 times a year, I've got the opportunity to say pretty much whatever I want so long as it has something to do with writing, my writing, books, or writers (or food. No one EVER objects to a good chocolate souffle).

What this in-another-bolder-life-would-become-a-friend woman and I mused over was whether or not, in 2012, the whole decade perhaps, the world is so saturated with words that maybe there is hardly a market for them at all. Where are the gatekeepers? she wondered. There is much out there that is good, sure, but a lot of dreck too. Eventually will people tire of clawing through gummy pools in search of something sweet and good, and just give up?
I wondered back if this is a transitory period, and in the next few years, things will change again. The saturation, the blogs, the opinions, the platform if not market for anything and everything--maybe it will ease up into a new reality, and the new normal will more closely resemble the old one. Or not.

Now, this woman is an essayist, a writer of non-fiction, and she said she really specializes in succinct opinion pieces--maybe 300 words a pop. (This comes in at 417 words through that last sentence.) We here at WWW are all novelists, working with manuscripts from about 75-100K words. Just as there are literally millions of blogs out there dedicated to short op-ed (you know what "Google" originally meant, right?), Heaven knows there are plenty of equal-length books out there. Many of them books that might not be published if self-publishing and e-publishing and who-knows-what's-next-publishing weren't part of this brave new world. So I guess her point holds true: there's an awful lot out there, and the thought of achieving traditional publication is a daunting one. And even then, amidst just so much, what is the likelihood of our words getting much play?

Fair enough. But there's this, and it's a belief I've harbored since I began to write in earnest several years ago: the cream will rise. That doesn't mean that the best books will necessarily be the most read, but with effort and tenacity and sure, a certain amount of luck, I believe that all of us here will find our publishers, our book deals, our second books and our third ones, and our writing careers.

That's why I'm here, and not at the movies. Though I'll be there, too, after I've read Suzanne Collins' trilogy. And like the woman at the bookstore (who was buying it for herself and her kids, just like me), I'll surely applaud the success of the book even as I hope and dream to find a portion of the same.

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