Day 104

Tom Wolfe started as a newspaperman, one of those old time reporters.

“…it was always nighttime in my daydreams of the newspaper life. Reporters didn’t work during the day.”

That’s how he envisioned what writing on a newspaper would be like. He said he didn’t want to — and didn’t have any intention to — set out to change it. But somewhere along the road he did, simply because he found himself in a situation where he needed a new format to properly get across the ideas that he was trying to write.

As I’ve mentioned in these pages, that article was the “The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby”, which in turn became the title of a book, a collection of his articles that came out during that time period that reflected what would come to be called “The New Journalism”. In the literary world — or at least the newspaper/magazine world — it was as big a change as the Beatles were (perhaps not coincidentally, who came out at about the same time).

But even then, he wasn’t trying to change the establishment (or at least that was his claim). Maybe his little portion of it. But as Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said about the collection: “Excellent book by a genius who will do anything to get attention.”

Why shouldn’t he want to get attention? Every writer wants it. Every published writer, anyway (yes, there are many who will write a tome or two, and tuck it safely away into a shoe box).

Attention is even more important these days. The written word has been on a steady decline since the founding of the New Journalism. Not because of it, mind you, but because of the rise of TV, then video games and movies, and now the Internet (though in weird way it is a revival of sorts as well as a death knell…) So any edge that you can get is important. Anything you can do to get your work read.

I’m finding that out more than ever lately. I’ve talked about Terry Fallis here and how he went from rejection to self-publishing to a major award to a multi-book deal with McClelland & Stewart. Love that story, and glad he’s reaping the rewards of all that work now.

Rex Pickett has self-published his sequel to Sideways call Vertical, which I’ve also mentioned here.

There’s another writer I’m going to talk about tomorrow (Monday) who also self-published, though very much in a different genre.

There is almost a romantic quality to self-publishing, and that’s something that until recently, there wasn’t. Self-publishing was always considered to be dirty, to be hack, unprofessional in every sense of the word, amateurish, and a very last resort. However I think that will change — is changing already. Especially with the rise of ebooks and other outlets for our work. Self-publishing will take on a new aura in 2011, I’m fairly certain of that.

It won’t replace an actual book deal. That’s a brass ring that simply cannot be tarnished, and economically is still the best route for writers. It is definitely something that I’ll be looking for when my book is ready.

But it’s still not a bad plan to brush up on the ins and outs of self-publishing. Finding a publisher, after all, is such a long, long shot.


(Novel Writing Totals)

Hours Today: 1
Words Today: 1,822
Hours Total: 70
Words Total: 94,606

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