Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I'm A Writer
by Malena Lott
We live in a society of labels, so it's no surprise one of the first questions people ask upon introduction is, "What do you do?" Over the years I've "been" many things. Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth, The Power of Now) says he usually answers, "I'm a writer," because, "I Am" just doesn't cut it for most people.
Unlike a lot of answers, I suppose, "I'm a writer," typically gets a raised brow. A humph. Or an oooh/aaah reply. "Really? That's cool. What do you write?"
I usually start with the biggie. "Novels." Then add, "fiction," because there are still a lot of people that don't know that a novelist is an author of fiction.
I'd say 9 out of 10 times, the person goes on to say, "I could never write a book. Wouldn't even know where to begin." Everyone knows what a daunting task undertaking a novel can be. Especially those in the thick of it.
Then there's that 10% who say, "I've got a book idea," then goes on to tell you the whole plotless mess of it. No matter, I smile and tell them, they should, "just do it." It's not my job to tell them what a long hard road it can be. I believe if a person has a story in them, they should pluck it out. I keep the chuckle to myself when they say they want to write to "make a lot of money." Again, let them dream. What if they are one of the breakout successes?
Being a writer in a day and age when technology rules supreme and everybody who has a computer can be a "blogger," makes the occupation/hobby/passion a bit less glamorous than years past. With book readers overall diminishing and the harsh realities of the publishing world, it's harder than ever to write and get paid handsomely for it. Read this very long, very dramatic piece about the end of book publishing in New York magazine if you have a half hour to spare.
The bottom line is: the storytelling industry will constantly evolve. My guess is every newspaper/magazine/TV show/movie/book will merge more into a multimedia format. We want what we want when we want it, and if that happens to be on our iPhone or laptop or big screen at home, then that's where we'll get it. Eventually. I think fewer authors will be published in print and the quality of ebooks (and its authors) will improve because the public will demand it. Print on demand will probably become more the order of the day, which environmentally and economically, will save a lot of waste of book shredding when a book has run its course. Of course, I could be wrong. There are publishing pundits and insiders who probably know a lot more than I do.
What I know and care about at the end of the day is this: I'm a writer. I prefer to write fiction, and stories about women's journeys and relationships, but I'll write non-fiction, too. I write articles and TV and radio commercials and web copy and yes, blogs, too. I'd write for any format, so it doesn't matter if my "book idea" morphed into TV or movie or whatever the next "big thing" happens to be, but there's something very special and unique about the book.
I still believe in the book industry, in the power of a great story and the beauty of the written word. I don't believe books are dead, and the publishing industry will find its way. While advances or royalties or the structure changes, what won't change is that it all begins with the writer and the words.
NOTE: Photo is Sourcebooks publicist Danielle Jackson with author Malena Lott.
If you're a writer, what's your favorite part of the writing process? If you're a reader, how has your entertainment consumption changed with advancements in technology?