Why We Write
An Important Editor is reading my new novel and as 2015 comes rushing in, I am on tenterhooks. My wish list is short. This story is a personal heartsong. I am confident it will touch others. I so want it to see the light of day.
2014 has featured a lot of iffy news for lovers of books. Nook is on the ropes. Amazon has been making headlines right and left, though I suspect it is mostly writers who pay attention. Today's Times ran a big story about what is good for authors, but I think it missed the point. We are not about the business (in fact we mostly stink at it!). I don't know a creative soul who stares down the blank page, contemplates knocking off 80-100,000 words, and conjures up images of wealth. (We do however fantasize about the "By the Book" profile in the Sunday Book Review!)
In reality, when the blank page looms, we write because we have a story to tell, a burning desire to share it, and probably figured out around 2nd grade that we were better at this than math or science. The rest is luck, tenacity and literary history.
The other big story that mostly authors care about is digital versus print. Digital is easy. I have sold plenty of instant downloads of Food for Marriage to a seatmate on a long flight delay. It's a fun conversation starter and a quick buck. The chats are still longer than the earnings reports, but that hasn't slowed me a bit!
However, my preference is print! One of the great retro joys of riding the New York City subway is seeing what people read. I am happy to report that libraries are still in business and used, dog-eared copies of Nabakov, Hemingway and Garcia-Marquez are still widely in circulation. One of the sweetest pleasures of all the book groups I did this past year was meeting new friends who asked me to sign their copy. I've adopted a cloying, signature Food for Marriage author phrase: "Stay hungry!" I know I am.
Do books matter? It's my fervent prayer they do, and for the millions who received the world's easiest gift to wrap, I hope the proverbial image of settling in for a good read by a crackling fireplace remains relevant. That's the reader in me talking.
But the writer is still at it because it is what I do and what I love. I am willing to turn the business over to the wise and experienced rainmakers who still cling to their passion for making good books. Me? Pull up a barstool. Have I got a story to tell!