“The theme of art is life itself. This artificial distinction between artists and human beings is precisely what we are all suffering from. An artist is only someone unrolling and digging out and excavating the areas normally accessible to normal people everywhere and exhibiting them as a sort of scarecrow to show people what can be done with themselves.” Poet, novelist Lawrence Durrell, via The Paris Review
I picture novelists of the future as the literary equivalent of home brewers, coming up with small batches of craft brews geared toward a specific taste. The challenge for a novelist lies in connecting our work with those readers who have an appetite for it. I’m starting to catch on to the importance of building that base through an online presence. It’s an enormous joke on us writers: Collectively, we’re an almost comically introverted bunch; yet in order to find readers, we’re compelled to morph into crack marketers and self-promoters.” (Bettina Lanyi, “the aspiring novelist”)
“When I was looking for an agent, all I really wanted was someone to save me from all the marketing and logistical hassles of producing and selling a book. I just wanted to be the shy writer and let everyone else take care of me. Today, I am actually grateful I didn’t find one.” (Cerece Rennie Murphy, “the self-published author”)
“I never anticipated that, when I became a professional writer, I’d also become a marketing strategist, publicist and entrepreneur. But in order to keep being a professional writer, I need to show my publisher how hard I’m willing to work. And I need to connect with my readers in as many creative, absurd and unexpected ways as possible.” (Jennifer Miller, “the novelist-entrepreneur”)
Over at The Washington Post, various members of the book publishing ecosystem weigh in on is evolution, with a common thread of the tension between writers’ inherent introversion and the extroversion a social media presence demands.
Zora Neale Hurston, born on this day in 1891, wrote these words in her 1950 essay, What White Publishers Won’t Print. ”For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America. His revelation to the public is the thing needed to do away with that feeling of difference which inspires fear, and which ever expresses itself in dislike. It is inevitable that this knowledge will destroy many illusions and romantic traditions which America probably likes to have around. But then, we have no record of anybody sinking into a lingering death on finding out that there was no Santa Claus. The old world will take it in its stride. The realization that Negroes are no better nor no worse, and at times just as bonny as everybody else, will hardly kill off the population of the nation.” This photo was taken on November 9, 1934 in Chicago by Carl Van Vechten. Via Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.
Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
Song: “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service
Even if one’s whole life were a mistake, there is always time to change.
Song: “Change Is Hard” by She & Him
The uncut diamond dusk of your fingers dawning on my chest.
Always new. Ever-returning like a season or a
Savior. Clear as silence and softer than faith. Your knowing fingers and the
Pilgrimmage of your touch. A psalm that never ends and always begins in you.
I dream of bayous circling your hips. Cresting, beaming like orandas in crystal currency on my thighs. The lotus of your face-song rising from the day.
Pure as promise.
Dancing like wind on a window half opened framing the overcast on a child’s face
Summoning the sun.
Your song removes the shadows and the scaffolds from my life.
My world is the flute of your spine. The honey and saffron globes in the clefts of your cheeks. The warm bed. The shy, wondering look, then laughter.
The knowing touch of you. Even the sea blushes at your touch.
The masonry of your silhouette at dawn against the mirrors of my eyes and the moon. Silver and cocoa rushes. Silk sonnets pouring from your mouth. Clear as silence and softer than faith. Too many kisses to count.
If you want to write, don’t err by setting the bar too low. Maybe you want to write like Emily Dickinson. Maybe you want to write like Nabokov. Just we willing, at the end of the day, to look at your work and say, ‘That’s not as good as Nabokov, but boy, it’s as good as I could make it today.’ Fall in love with books and with modes of being. I just spent a pile of money I can’t afford on opera tickets to see Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Think of all the cocaine I could have bought with that eight hundred dollars! Yet here I am blowing it to go sit in a room with a bunch of stiffs next Tuesday night. I’m in love, I can’t help it.
Mary Karr in My Ideal Bookshelf
Song: “Paperback Writer” by R. B. Greaves from Come Together : Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney
Man, I’m mostly a digital/Kindle/iPad book reader now but this is ill.