Saturday, August 09, 2008

I'm at the beach and will be spending precious little time online. This is my vacation and I won't be responding to most e-mail until I get back.

Last week I spoke on a publishing panel at the Marist writing conference. While the details always vary, there's a definite pattern to these publishing panels -- or at least the ones I participate in.

There's three types of writers who attend these panels. The first type are the ones who are dissatisfied with the process of publishing, but are threatened or turned off to unconventional or different possibilities in publishing. They don't want anything to change, they want to know the secret handshake. These types tend to scoff at pretty much everything except traditional print journals and publishers. They're unhappy, but they're stuck. It's difficult to unstick people who are trapped in their own limiting perceptions.

The second type are folks with exceedingly impractical expectations -- like living a middle class lifestyle solely from book royalties. They haven't tried publishing very much and they're often young. In many cases, they haven't even written very much. Sure, living off your royalties is a nice life, if you can get it and if you can get it, rock on with your bad self. When you tell these types that they will very likely have to work a job for a decade or twelve if they want all those creature comforts, they start to pout! I don't have much tolerance for that and don't like when the panels give too much attention to this la-la-ness. In this past panel one young man lamented that he'd just have to "sell out" and write genre fiction. I suggested that he sell out by getting a job folding sweaters at the Gap and write what he really wanted to write -- that way at least he'd be assured he'd be paid. Then I told him that before I went to grad school and had a baby, I worked at AOL -- and he looked at me like, I don't know what, but it all seemed pretty unbelievable to him. You know what people, just because I'm a poet doesn't mean I don't have marketable sk1llz!

The third type are the ones who actually consider what is being offered in the panel. These types usually don't interrupt or make faces when you talk. Cause they're too busy listening. Sometimes they approach you afterwards, sometime they don't. I participate in panels for these writers.

Ok, like I said, I'm on vacation. Bugger off!


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