Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sour Grapes Turn My Stomach

Was there ever a time when the job of writing required nothing more than the actual devotion of months and years worth of hours spent slaving, quill or pen in hand, over a ream of paper, toiling until a story of sufficient quality had been bled forth? Put as bluntly as that, it seems a horrendous way of making a living, but the sad truth is that, these days, the final full stop merely signals that the real work is about to begin.
For writers, these days, the business is all about promotion. There are some who like to claim that it is what not who you know that counts, but there can be no denying that knowing the right people helps enormously. You can write a great book but if you don't get into the best review columns nobody is going to know your masterpiece even exists. Everywhere you look, there are literary festivals, arts grants and book awards, but even places at those podiums, alas, seem reserved for the chosen and the favoured few. Even finding a publisher is not enough anymore. Then again, perhaps it never was enough. Cultivating the right friendships was probably just as important in Hemingway's and Joyce's day, even back in Shakespeare's time, as it is today.
So, a prayer:
May God in His heaven look kindly on the introverted few who live by the desperately hopeful mantra that, in the end, the worthy stuff will somehow make it to the top. And, in the meantime, grant them the strength to endure and to keep the faith while they are forced to look on from their murky little hole in the wall as some flash-in-the-pan footballer's inflatable popette of a wife sells her ghost-written ought-o-biography to a clamouring flock of bidders and as the latest friend of a friend of Daddy's accountant's friend takes his or her turn in the lavish limelight to casually collect their hard-earned cheque for however many thousand and to mutter a few self-serving thank you's to all those glorious princes and princesses of the highest echelons for naming their most recent tome as best this or that of the year.
It's all about as depressing as January rain, but it's reality, and the only way to carry on is to keep your head down and simply carry on. When the dreams wither, hurry to replace them, keep on writing your thousand words a day and keep reaching for the shining stars in the sky. Oh, and vent before the pressure becomes too much ...

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