Another year has come and gone here at Ditchwalk. For the second straight year any personal predictions I might have made last August have been completely voided by the intervening 365 days. Takeaway: don’t think too far ahead.
The most interesting thing about the past year, from my own myopic point of view as well as the point of view of the greater storytelling universe, is that self-publishing is no longer seen as even a lifestyle choice. Established/commercial pipelines will always exist, but the indy storytelling spirit is now fully legitimized across all mediums.
I can’t think of a better turn of events. Anything that liberates and validates writing is a good thing. We can worry about the ocean of work that’s being produced after we empower everyone who wants to write.
Speaking of which, I think the biggest problem facing publishing at all levels today is the problem of sifting, curating and reviewing content. I’ve looked far and wide for an appropriate place to submit my collection of short stories for objective review, but have essentially come up empty. Yet I’m not surprised. If the value of most stories — as determined by demand — is zero, then making a living as an independent reviewer is going to be economically impossible.
Unless you’re a part of the traditional New York publishing pipeline there’s little money in writing reviews no matter how you approach the task. Which of course leads to ugly practices like ‘paid reviews’ and ‘promoted reviews’ and every other form of marketing fraud you can imagine.
I don’t have a solution here. Reviewing demands credibility — along with considerable craft knowledge — and there just doesn’t seem to be any money in being credible these days. Better to whore yourself out as a celebrity and cry all the way to the bank.
How all this affects future plans is a bit schitzy. On one hand I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing a month from now, let alone six months or a year. On the other hand I no longer concern myself with trying to fit my ideas into a market or medium. Provided I can eke out a minimal level of subsistence I feel completely free to write what I want to write.
As to output, I hope to be considerably more productive. A Neil Rorke novel, a non-fiction book, and maybe a screenplay or two, along with blogging here and at NeilRorke.com.
I’d also like to end up some place where I can plug my electric guitar in for the first time in seven years. I think I write better when I pick at small metal wires that make loud, screechy noises.
— Mark Barrett