Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1191

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1191

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1194

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1194

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): No such file or directory in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1197

Warning: mysql_real_escape_string(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/scouser/echoesandmirrors.com/wp-content/plugins/statpress/statpress.php on line 1197
Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » They’re Not Artists, They’re Professionals In An Industry

They’re Not Artists, They’re Professionals In An Industry

Where Have All the Mailers Gone? | The New York Observer.

Alas: The practice of fiction is no longer a vocation. It has become a profession, and professions are not characterized by creative mischief. Artistic vocations are about embracing more and more of the world with your will; professions are insular affairs that are all about the profession. The carefulness, the cautiousness, the professionalism that keeps contemporary fiction from being meaningful to the most intellectually engaged people is also what is stifling any kind of response to The New Yorker. After all, kick against The New Yorker‘s conventional taste and you might tread on some powerful person’s overlapping interest. You might anger Nicole Aragi, fiction super-agent. You might alienate a New Yorker editor! Literary triumph in Manhattan is now defined by publishing one or two pieces in The New Yorker each year. That is too narrow a definition of literary triumph.

Writing isn’t art, it’s an industry. An industry that makes Twilight and Harry Potter and… some other stuff. Profitable stuff!

While I loathe the self-publishing and POD elements that sprung up in the publishing world, I can see how they’re necessary to combat the make-the-New Yorker-happy mentality. But those people will probably never reach any real notoriety. Hell, most people who go the traditional publishing route still don’t. But it’s almost universally true that if one does, one is professional about it. And that sucks.

Could the very idea of “being professional” kill America? Maybe I’m biased from my experiences with “military professionalism”, which meant always putting up the illusion that everything is good. It was all about polishing turds. Didn’t matter what you had in your hand as long as somebody could see their reflection in it.

However, professionalism is necessary because it sets standards of courtesy and etiquette. The problem is that it can overshadow the work and its quirks and nuances are so complex that the only way to avoid catastrophic mistakes is money (one could argue that those with money simply move into a different rule set).

For about a million reasons, fiction has now become a museum-piece genre most of whose practitioners are more like cripplingly self-conscious curators or theoreticians than writers. For better or for worse, the greatest storytellers of our time are the nonfiction writers. The proof? No one would dare rank them, presume to categorize them by age or exploit them as a marketing tool. Their writing is too relevant and alive.

Fiction is not dead, sir. The business of selling real, heart-felt literary art in the grand arena of the major publishing houses may be dying, but fiction itself is not. There are more people writing simply for the sake of writing than ever, and they don’t care about professional rules or, consequently, about making money off it.

Trying to view books as a commodity is not right. Because one books sells more than another doesn’t really say much about its quality. Just because a non-fiction book  requires less critical thought to extract the hidden social observations than a novel does not make it more relevant. Sadly, the easier-to-read book is more likely to sell these days.

Share

Tags: , ,

0 comments