Writers breathlessly running toward Kindle like lemmings seeking a cliff
“This is what I say to people who tell me they want to write. It takes 3-4 hours per day of guided practice, I pause, for ten years…The ones who don’t flinch have a better shot.” – Julianna Baggott in “You Want to Write, or Do You Want to Be a Writer?”
It’s a race, isn’t it? We write. We upload to Kindle. We’re published.
- LAUNCH PARTY. . .Enter my Give-Away on GoodReads. . .Question: Which Hollywood stars best fit the characters in my book?…Squeeeeee, I’m so excited!!!!!!!!!!!! …Buy my book….LOOK: My first Amazon review…Need Christmas gifts? “Beyond Disbelief” is the perfect stocking stuffer for everyone who still believes in Santa Claus.
- What happens now? The answer is nothing.
We might sell a couple hundred copies. We might give away another 500 copies. But after that, the answer is still nothing, though we may not notice because we’re racing to write, upload our next effort to Kindle and say, “Yay, published again.”
I know. I’ve fallen off the cliffs designed for writers by Lulu, Smashwords, CreateSpace and iUniverse. And then I Tweeted (carefully, so it wouldn’t look like SPAM) to hundreds, saw my carefully prepared status updates scroll across the timelines of 1,400 Facebook friends, and connected with others on FriendFeed, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Like the others who were falling, or who were about to be falling, off the cliffs, I hoped somebody out there would rescue my work from the cluttered scrapheap of books published every day.
It was like waiting for Santa Claus.
Now that she has released her third novel since 1992, Donna Tartt (“Goldfinch”) is being talked about again. In a world where books are racing off the Kindle assembly lines and being chatted about endlessly (to no avail) in the social media, the people who know books are asking (rhetorically), “What the hell has Donna Tartt been doing?”
I suspect, as Hemingway might say, “She was getting the words right.”
The words in many of those Kindle books currently falling off the cliff into oblivion might not be too broke to fix. But they won’t be, partly because there seemed to be some urgent need to get them published. Some of the writers racing to Kindle are asked why they didn’t go with a traditional publisher where their words would be fine-tuned by editors and proofreaders.
“Too time consuming,” some say. “Too uncertain,” others proclaim.
What’s the hurry? And what’s so appealing about throwing a novel off the Kindle cliff even though the pile of books at the bottom is, truth be told, a certainty?
We have to need to write more than we need to say, “yay, I’m published.”
“But need keeps coming,” says Baggott. “It’s an engine that drives and drives and drives. It has its own will. It says, Ten years? I’ll give you a lifetime.”
How long does it take to get the words right? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is choosing not to publish them a moment sooner.