Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Publishing in the 21st Century (Part 2)

Sweeping generalizations time. We writers are a reclusive lot. After all, if we actually enjoyed performing live in front of large groups of people, we'd be performance artists of some sort. Actor/writers, singer/songwriters, standup comedians; all of these people tap into the same creative wellspring that writer/writers do, but frankly, the number of good novels or even good short stories written by these people is vanishingly small. This is for one simple reason. Good writers would rather stay home and write something new than go out and perform the same old shtick over and over again in front of an audience.

No, when you look at writers as a class, you'll find a lot more Emily Dickinsons than -- y'know, I can't even think of one good example of a writer who gives good talkshow. Most good writers I know find it a chore to do even something as mild as a friendly interview for a fanzine or a panel at a sci-fi con, but accept doing these things as necessary evils. On the other hand, those extroverts who are exceptionally good at self-promotion are most often no great shakes as writers, which begs the question: is it their fascinating personality that sells their books, or is the American book-buying public really that lacking in taste and intelligence? (Don't answer that.)

So here's the writer's dilemma: given the basic writer's introverted personality, in a world where 25,000 new novels are published each year, how do you rise about the background noise without squandering all the time and energy it takes to write new work?

To be continued...