Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Make it New" is tough enough; being open to the new is a whole other challenge

The publishing industry has changed since I moved to New York. I managed, with near-tragic timing, to hit the city coincident with a great downslide, when mid-list authors were dumped without fanfare. It made for hard times and grim prospects. One writer I knew back in Seattle, who had several novels out, quit altogether and devoted himself to reviewing. This was around 1995, 1996, 1997.

A teacher at my grad. school was offered a chance to publish her second book, direct-to-paper. No high-priced hardback, just a nice, soft cover. She asked me, in a manner that was more telling than asking, "I'm too good for this, aren't I?"

I wanted to shout, "No! Take the deal" but didn't say a word. She passed on the deal. Her second book has yet to be published, and this is over ten years later.

I have to remind myself to be flexible. When online literary journals started appearing, I was sceptical and resisted submitting to them. Print was queen. Every writer wanted to be in print. I was not atypical of my generation, which is, ahem, older.

But I changed my mind as I realized that a poem or story got a sort of, if not infinite exposure, then infinite possibility of exposure online. Every time I think something isn't for me, I remind myself to start questioning my reservation and explore the possibilities that a fair wind is a blowin'.

Oh, by the way. Ezra Pound suggested we Make it new. His suggestion continues to haunt writers and artists. That kind of haunting, old time though it may be, is good.

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