Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Worth Writing

Yesterday, the novel went off to Arsenal Pulp Press.  There won't be any word from anyone for months, if at all.

On the brighter side, I think I've solved the plot problems - and the ending - of the novel I discussed here, almost a month ago.  As I said before, the ending is the most important part, since you must know where you are going.

In all, I see six main characters now.  I'm not going to talk about how they fit into the story today; I expect I may be writing some of it - or perhaps all of it - online, which I think would be interesting.  At present I have a greater concern about it, that being that the story idea I now have may not be one that could be sold.

Whether or not you care about the marketable qualities of your writing is a matter that is best left up to you.  Every professional writer must necessarily give consideration to it.  As a young person it is all very well to preach about the ills of 'selling out' and the evils of compromising your artistic integrity for the sake of money, but as we know from getting older and having to buy our own food and pay for our own lodging, that compromise becomes more realistic.  For seven years up until the great Recession of 2008/09 I wrote monthly articles for several magazines which all happened to go belly-up within a few months of one another.  They had been paying me 30 cents a word, which was fairly nice, since it was a steady gig, but I have to confess that with a few exceptions, the work that was required was execreble.  By that, I don't mean the writing was bad, I mean the content comprised of things I confess I have little or no interest in.  Now and then I was entitled to produce a bit of humour, which was great fun and which gained me the greatest notariety among the readers, but the rest of it was all trade-focused and just boring as hell.

I have these last two years considered seriously if the money was worth working for a trade publication any time in the future.  I wouldn't want to.  And yet if I want to go on writing, and not working for trade magazines, then anything I want to write in the future had better appeal to someone willing to pay me money.  As such, writing a novel that has no fiscal value is a questionable luxury.

The book I am now sending to publishers is, I am certain, very marketable.  It's funny, it's dramatic, it has great, likeable characters and it follows a subject - music - that fascinates a wide-ranging audience.  The book I am considering right now isn't funny at all; the characters would be largely unlikeable and the subject would be violence mixed with philosophical metaphysics.  Moreover, the setting I have imagined is one associated with fantasy, the realm where people expect material that isn't heavy or introspective.

And still, great works are written by paying no attention to the rules whatsoever.

Consider Peckinpah's film, The Wild Bunch.  For most people, not a traditional ending.  A bit of a downer.  For most people, the debate and discussion about the rigors and pointlessness of the outlaw life is a bit of a downer.  I don't imagine the movie was an easy sell; I'm sure that Peckinpah had to shout, wave his arms, pull favors and extort wherever he could, particularly when cornered with his own premise.  "They all what at the end?"

If you think you have a story that is unique, and which you have the ability to tell, and which you feel might affect the reader in such a manner as to make them sit up and think, the question is this ... are you prepared to starve, if necessary, in order to tell that story?  Are you prepared to put the story over and above your own personal welfare, even if it means the possibility no one will ever read the story because it will never, ever get published?


Yes, I think it's worth writing.  I don't think it matters that it can't be sold.

Thinking the way I do, however, it might explain why I haven't had a book published yet.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who enjoyed the early draft of Pete's Garage that I was privileged to read last year, I wish you all the best.

    Funny enough, I found the ms among my papers as I was packing things last night for the last phase of our move, and realized I hadn't checked out this blog since it started. Excellent to know you're putting it out there.