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Wherein the sky has always been falling

Over two years ago, I blogged about all the parallels I’d found between the current state of the publishing industry and the lamentations about the same in a book published thirty-five years ago now called MURDER AT THE FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR.  Last weekend I was in Salem, Massachussets, and found the same spooky sameness in the bio of iconic New England author Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Self-publishing…got it.  His first novel, FANSHAWE (1828) was self-published anonymously.  It was not a critical or economic success and caused him so much pain that it was said that he burned unsold copies and practically denied the writing altogether.  He was known to burn other works as well after receiving rejections from publishers, and was forced to find other jobs to make ends meet while he toiled away at his literary works.  Like many writers, his career went through ups and downs, and he seemed to have felt the blows very keenly. 

I suppose that the long and short of what I took away from this is that publication has never been easy…not the path to it or the continuation of the journey.  It’s never been painless.  No artist of any stripe has ever been universally loved or acclaimed.  In order to reach out and grab readers by the throat, authors have to be able to throw open the doors and windows to the soul.  Unfortunately, in letting their creativity out, those open doors allow for stiff, bracing and sometimes stormy winds to sweep through as well.  To me it’s a comfort that the literary greats went through the same vicissitudes we do today.  They survived.  Their names have gone down in history and, perhaps more importantly to them as writers, their works have remained in print.  We read them today, often thinking that they must have been aware of their own genius and been gratified by their success, while the truth is that authors do not sit back content with the accomplishment of their last release, but are constantly struggling with the new and wondering whether they’ll be able to live up to or exceed expectations.  I’m not sure whether there’s an actual saying that you’re only as good as your latest novel, but I do know that that’s how all writers feel.

So, for those of you battling toward attainment of your dreams, whether they be of initial or continued publication, take comfort in the shared pain and find compatriots with whom to celebrate your triumphs.  Appreciate them when they come and pull out the memories of them to get you through the hard times.




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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
barbarienne
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
pssst. You've got the century wrong on Fanshawe. A simple typo, I'm sure.
varkat
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
Darn typos! Fixed, thanks. -L
kalayna_price
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
"authors do not sit back content with the accomplishment of their last release, but are constantly struggling with the new and wondering whether they’ll be able to live up to or exceed expectations. I’m not sure whether there’s an actual saying that you’re only as good as your latest novel, but I do know that that’s how all writers feel."


Have you been peeking into my brain behind that big doubt curtain draping my thoughts?

Great post. It's a good thing to remember.
hominysnark
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
I so needed to be reminded of this today. Thanks. :)
otterdance
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Great post! Mind if I link to it?
varkat
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
I don't mind at all!
martharamirez
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Great post, Lucienne! Very well said.
pingback_bot
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thoughts on Being A Writer
User otterdance referenced to your post from Thoughts on Being A Writer saying: [...] My friend and agent (and talented author) Lucienne Diver has an interesting post [...]
rymrytr
Nov. 9th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)


And sometimes, like Salieri (as depicted in the move: Amadeus), we fully realize that we are members of the Church of Mediocrity, and that knowledge, pre-defeats us.

However, if we hang in there, we may just have one great Opera in us that otherwise would go unknown!

As the Duke of Wellington said to Harriette Wilson: Publish and be Damned!"

Now... if'n I'll jist take my own advice... :o)


munchkyn_mom
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
What's wrong with mediocrity? It gets published every day. Never assume that just because something gets published, it's readable or interesting or even competently put together. I console myself that Emily Dickinson, Vincent Van Gogh and Percy Shelley were all virtually unknown in their lifetimes.
rymrytr
Nov. 30th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)


Good point Munchkyn Mom!

At the very least, we know whom Salieri is, because he did 'publish'.

It is better to do down in History as a Mediocrity than an unknown such as kholdestus, the inventor of the sharp stick. She had a great idea but, it wouldn't sell. Folks just went out and made their own.


desperance
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
I suppose that the long and short of what I took away from this is that publication has never been easy…not the path to it or the continuation of the journey.

This.

Mind, when I was a baby writer, back around 1980, I was talking to a well-published author; and she said, "You know, I really don't envy you. It was hard enough getting started back in the '60s, and it's so much harder now."

And she was right; but, y'know what? A generation later, I find myself saying exactly the same thing to today's baby writers. And I'm right, too.
rymrytr
Nov. 30th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)


(Please! Ignore the Guy behind this post. His grasp on reality has never been strong and his mind wonders and wanders... The perils of Multi-Personalities don'tcha know!)

Sew, lettuce sea now...

baby writer -- baby writers

First- A Baby that Write.
(My life: A Year or Two, in Diapers.)

2- Babies that Write.
(Our First Nine Months, or Co-Habituating in a Very Small Space.)

C- Those that write Baby.
(a- Graffiti Artists I bet.)
(b- Authors that can really write, Baby!)

iiii- Someone who writes babies.
(I've often wondered where Babies come from, now I Know!)


deborahblakehps
Nov. 10th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Oh, the pain! (SO true.)

But we have to keep writing anyway...or the voices in our heads start screaming :-)
razziecat
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
"But we have to keep writing anyway...or the voices in our heads start screaming :-"

Oh my goodness, yes...Good point!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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