The King of Infinite Space

Posted by Paul Samael on Friday, October 18, 2013 Under: Writing fiction

Just published a new short story on Feedbooks.  Stylistically, it's more in the same vein as "Agricultural Production in the Sudan" i.e. quite short, verging on flash fiction - but rather different subject matter.

It was partly prompted by Jonathan Franzen's much ridiculed article in the Guardian last month, where he rails against self-publishers as worthless "yakkers and bloggers", who are wantonly destroying the delicate publishing eco-system (in contrast to highly paid professionals like himself, who have toiled over many years to earn their place in the sun, their talent having been carefully nurtured by the major publishers - those selfless promoters of literary excellence and upholders of high standards, who would never dream of selling tawdry, downmarket stuff like celebrity memoirs etc etc).  Well, hmmmm....   Anyway, the thing that struck me most about this was that for a writer - who must at one stage have been a struggling writer - he displayed a rather surprising lack of empathy and understanding of what drives many authors to self-publish.

I also thought he underestimated the role of chance in the whole process - a famous example of this is J K Rowling, whose first book had been repeatedly rejected until it landed on the desk of an editor at Bloomsbury who just happened to be putting together a new children's list.  But for that happy coincidence, we might never have heard of Harry Potter (although who knows, faced with repeated rejection, maybe she would've self-published it....).

I don't deny that Franzen has had to work hard to get where he is today - but that was also something I wanted to explore in the story i.e. that in order to "get on" in today's world, you often need to be prepared to spend years honing a very particular and narrow set of skills.  This works out for some people (and it has certainly worked out for him), but not for everyone - and I was surprised that as a writer, Franzen did not seem to have more sympathy for the losers in that particular race (even if they are not always the most attractive specimens of humanity, like the rather self-pitying protagonist in my story).

But hey, who needs his sympathy anyway?

In : Writing fiction 

Tags: "short stories"  "jonathan franzen is an idiot" 
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About Me

Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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