Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On Writers and Plumbers and Others

I'm in a bit of a snarky mood today, which reminds me I wanted to point readers to this recent OpEd piece about writers and other "authors" (think Joe-the-Plumber types who garner huge book deals to "write" a memoir).

I was once at a party when a man asked what I did for a living. I said I was a writer, and he suddenly got this game face on, as if I had just challenged him to an arm-wrestling contest in a seaport bar.

"Oh really? Ever write anything I would have read?" he asked.

I started on a list of my publishing credits but noticed his eyes glazing over, so I simply stopped mid-sentence. He seemed not to notice.

Then I asked, "And what do you do?" The man puffed up and said he was a plumber. Union. Twenty-three years.

"Oh really?" I asked. "Ever install any toilets I might have…." Well, you get the idea.

I've since learned to be nicer, if only to decrease my own agita. But I'm in total agreement with Timothy Egan, who wrote the above OpEd piece. Writers should writer. Plumbers (and other infamous famous folks) should...well you know. There's also this article, about how some publishers are fueling their own demise; hint: publishing so many stupid books is well….you get the idea.

Then there's this, about the over-coverage of the "collapse" of the book-magazine-newspaper industry, which I read somewhere recently but can't find again (and if anyone knows, tell me so I can link it): When Starbucks announced hundreds of store closings, no one wrote 72-point headlines about the end of the coffee industry.

Could it be that publishing is just changing, evolving, as every industry does and must? And that we don't do the industry or ourselves any good running around talking about it all being just about over? Yes, even when we are all losing jobs and contracts and assignments and confidence. Something tells me that, while whining has its function, it's probably better to focus on where the industry is going and how we can find a way to continue our creative endeavors within that new framework.

Okay. Now that's done, I can go back to work. You know, writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It may be that the changes are so rapid that it's disconcerting. Will print last? Will it all be electronic? Do words matter, or is it all just coming up video? It's a little troubling, especially for someone wanting to get back into a medium (newspapers in print)that just keeps crumbling scarily. (And why isn't the government willing to bailout publishing?)But, yeah, maybe it is time to quit worrying and keep writing. Still, it's hard not to fret when your livelihood counts on the written word in some form or another.