How many reams of paper do you suppose have been wasted over the years as distraught writers stared at the first blank sheet of a poem or novel, have scribbled a few lines, become irritated or weepy, and then ripped it to pieces and thrown it away? At least now more writers are inclined to highlight and delete, thus saving innumerable trees.
For all the suffering poets and writers have loudly proclaimed to have experienced when facing the horrid blank page, there is, in my opinion, a cheese more rotten than that in Denmark. (Sorry, Shakespeare.) The ever dreaded: PROMOTION OF THE FINISHED PRODUCT. Good lord. Do car manufacturers expect design engineers or assembly people to sell the car? Do shoe manufacturers parade the underpaid slave laborer in Asia to stump like a nineteenth century hair tonic salesman? No. Instead writers are often erroneously imbued with the sacred mantle of being an artist.
That puts us into a business model with similar elements of being a wine vintner or perhaps an independent seamstress. The wine vintner babies the grapes through a year of weather and growth, followed by years of being in cellars in barrels to gain flavor. Then, an excellent vintner negotiates the price and watches as his baby, his creation, rolls out of the estate (He has an estate!) to eventually hit the market under the care of a well-placed distribution system.
Then there’s the seamstress. She’s the sweet, young woman with mousy hair or the bent over crone who smells bad, who if they don’t have talent, at least have ability. They establish and work to keep a clientele that is often given to fickle tendencies if a price is a dollar better down the street.
What I think the business model the book industry lusts for is for more like the dramatic, self-destructive clothing designer Alexander McQueen who inspired the book by Andrew Bolton, that is today bestseller number 139 on Amazon, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Be outrageous, yet still beloved and then take your own life (or at least die like Stieg Larsson) so a grieving public can worship a suddenly more meaningful creation. This business model deviation adds at least twenty percentage point to marketing exploitation thought it puts a damper on future bestsellers.
Sadly, I am a seamstress over here who pieced together in readable (I think), loving words (as lovable as my stony self is capable), a concept people can truly “wear” or use in life instead of worship in world class museum photographs. So, am I bitter and full of self-pity? Sounds like it, and I could be, but I’m going to give myself a bit of a pass.
I appreciate life’s absurdities and the entertainment of a popular, though often shallow, media. I started writing late in life so I know there are many other things that give pleasure when one, even one dearly hoped for pleasure, does not fly to my oversized American expectation of what I might clearly “deserve.” I am where I am and I know people who could benefit from my book, Blossoms of the Lower Branches, A Hero’s Journey Through Grief, will see the promotions on a budget placed by a seamstress turned writer, and come where they are welcome.