Sunday, November 8, 2009

I believe, and I refuse to stop

The writing has slowed. There was a frenetic space in October, where I was determined to hit a variety of deadlines that frankly no one but me cared if I hit. I wanted to submit to various anthologies, and wanted the resultant short stories, and I got far more than I would have expected for a short, short period of time that was rife with other complications.

I also had those things that happen to stories that can't necessarily be fixed when there's no extra time. One story was intended for a 'terror on the high seas' type anthology. It came in at word count, and I like it considerably, and it was rejected promptly. I wasn't a bit surprised, since the terror lasted about half a page and after that it became a family-reunion-with-selkies story. I like it, but it's hardly what I was aiming for.

Meanwhile the novel goes in fits and starts. When it goes, it does over 1500 words at a clip, most of them pulled out of my head without too much blood and gore. When it stops? Full stop for many days.

The nonfiction is also fitting and starting. Two long paying projects, a third that is wrapping up, but nothing I can invoice on right now and many, many unnecessary complications from unnecessary angles. I'm lucky to have the work, and am actively looking for more, but in the interim, am taking seasonal work. It's the first time I've worked for anyone other than me in 12 years and it starts tonight. The amount of dread I feel is so intense that 1. I can't imagine using this for a character, as any editor would consider it the worst sort of overwriting/purple prose and 2. I'm calling it my execution.

Another writer who I adore and whose blog I read daily is now actively searching for part time work. She recently sold a couple new novels so I think she's looking for healthcare though I could be wrong. When I was at a master class for fiction on the Oregon coast in fall 2008, they talked about having to go back to the day job for a while. At the time, I still hoped it wouldn't happen.

Someone on one of the writerly lists I'm on posted that he thinks print is dead, and hence my title here. Because I don't think it is. Maybe Borders is closing a lot of stores (please, please don't close mine, our Other Major Chain in My Town is not up to making up the difference) but our Friends of the Library just held a 10-day big sale and the first weekend was jammed. People are reading. They want to escape. They want books. I understand this writer's point of view. He, too, is looking for seasonal work, and doesn't sound much happier about it than I am.

But isn't it possible we're looking at a slump, rather than an ending? I'm no expert, and with my new, rather savage time constraints, unlikely to research here, but it seems likely there were slumps in book publishing during the depression, probably during WWII, and at other times.

It's possible I'm just desperately hopeful, because I not only want to see my first (and second through fiftieth) book out there on the shelves, but I want to see it in print. I am not entranced by ebooks, in that a stack of books or bookshelves full of waiting books, brings me pleasure and invites me to dig in, where a hard plastic thing with knobs invites me to work, not relax. I'd be perfectly happy to have my novels appear on Kindles and Sony's and the rest -- after the print runs.

I believe books will survive.

I think the nonfiction will survive too. I'm not sure what will happen to magazines, and though they were my bread and butter, there were a lot of very narrowly-focused magazines out and about. I'm not sure how they're fairing (this whole post is from my pov, not from any sort of research, it's Sunday morning, after all, and I'm due to be executed at 6 p.m.) but a winnowing is probably to be expected any time there's so many of one thing. Not that it's good, just that it's not unexpected.

That said, I have a novel in progress which I'm finally liking a bit (it hit that 17,000 word mark and started acting like a 17-year-old and I was not liking its company), more short stories I want to write, a new article assignment, a couple leads on work, some sample chapters to write and three proposals I want to write on my own for nonfiction. I believe that print is not dead, and I refuse to stop believing.

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