Lots of bad news in the news lately about the economy, and the publishing world is no exception. Layoffs at houses, print runs dropping, the holiday retail season now to be renamed The Nightmare Before, During & After Christmas.
I’ve read posts from published authors about our dire fate, and I’ve read a self-inscribed headstone from an online acquaintance who says it’s just not worth it.
Here’s some more bad news for us writers: YOU NEVER HAD A FUCKING CHANCE.
Read that again. Yup, it’s true. Moving from writer to author was always next to impossible. The gradual decline in people who read for pleasure. The consolidation of publishers. The rising price of wood pulp.
But you see that slim space next to impossible? That’s POSSIBLE, and that’s where you slide in. No doubt getting a contract in today’s economic environment IS harder than before, but does it really matter? The difference in degree of difficulty is like the difference in chances between the universe being destroyed, when the Large Hadron Collider turns on, by a micro black hole versus a stranglet. Both chances are so vanishingly small (if I understand my obscure physics conspiracy theories correctly, which I probably don’t) that it makes no nevermind. There’s your very own Quantum of Solace; take comfort in that tiny space.
Because, when I said you had no chance, didn’t you feel that microburst of vehement denial, that niggling sense of ‘But I’m different…’, that in the multitudiverse of possibilities, you will land in the dimension where you get The Call?
Thanks to Patti O’Shea for the link to this inspirational message from a man dying of pancreatic cancer pushing everyone to achieve their childhood dreams. Randy Pausch says the brick walls that block our path are only there to keep other people out, to stop those who don’t want it bad enough.
If you’ve always been crazy enough to throw youself against that forbidding wall, struggling to climb around the punishing outcroppings of broken shale, bloodying your fingers, lungs burning from exertion, does it really matter if the top of the wall is scattered with shards of glass? Hardly.
The politicians like to use the phrase ‘cautiously optimistic.’ I prefer ‘hopefully pessimistic’ because it more perfectly captures the reality that we are well and truly hosed… and yet we go on.
I’ve always wanted to kick in the teeth of people who say ‘Those who make it are the ones who didn’t quit.’ Well, duh. That’s a nonreciprocal argument and doesn’t mean that those who don’t give up will make it. Still, in the interests of finding ways to motivate ourselves to go on, I suppose it serves.
As an Eeyore at heart, though, I find myself drawing more inspiration from the following motivational poster:
‘Cuz you know what? Walking gets you there too. So go.