I’m assuming that most bloggers are, like me, either aspiring writers, unsuccessful writers, jilted writers, writers who have had a deep yet unrequited affair with writing, or some combination of all of the above. For this reason, and for anyone else who’s just interested, I recently read an intriguing article that might be worth reading to anyone who would describe themselves in any of the aforementioned ways, which I will now relate to you. This article was intriguing for two increasingly improbable reasons: the first is that it related good news – I know, actual good news! – and not just good news, but good news and even positive outlook in topics relating to the economy, to economic growth, to a prospering vocation, to trade, and to an increasingly profitable and prosperous industry. The second is that the article was about writers! Yes! Writers, novelists, and the publishing industry. Stephen Marche, writing in the December issue of Esquire (yes, again, I’m a subscriber), says that the medium may be changing, but that we are living in the golden age for writers.
In music, it’s a truism that technology liberated creators and listeners in magnificent ways but more or less ruined the industry in the process. Even big-name acts have struggled to adapt financially. But the world of writing has escaped this mess. Writers are prospering as never before, on all levels. At the very pinnacle, J.K. Rowling is a billionaire. She is richer than the queen of England. A little lower down the scale, Tom Wolfe was paid $7 million for his last novel. Just to put that in perspective, Charles Dickens’s net worth when he died would be about $10 million today. And for writers starting out, there are more options, more means of access to the marketplace, than ever before. With Fifty Shades of Grey and a whole whack of other e-book miracles, self-publishing has almost lost its stigma. Small presses have never produced more lovely editions or had an easier time disseminating their products. In 2010 the National Book Award and the Pulitzer for fiction both went to books from tiny presses.
As I suppose is par for the course, writers are predictably the last ones to feel and truly believe this newfound success.
A massive process of literary rebirth is under way. Everyone seems to understand and accept this golden age except the writers themselves.
After reading this article, at a point where I had become increasingly desperate for good news, and while enduring some ongoing tribulations in my own life – ones not unrelated to those of the country as a whole – it was hard not to be inspired by both Marche’s words and his sentiment. If I can allow myself to believe it, even for just a minute, I could actually feel good about something that’s happening in the world at large. The last thing I felt at all good about that existed beyond my own personal reality occurred on November 6th, and that was not a blowout for me, but allowed for a faint sense of cautious optimism. Which, hey, I’ll take it if I can get it. But happiness for me, as I imagine for many people, has come more and more from my immediate surroundings, my own little world, the daily victories of any locality. And that’s fine. But this is finally something I could be happy about that was happening on a larger scale, outside myself. And in all seriousness, I was inspired – it was this article that inspired me to start this blog.
So I encourage anyone who’s interested in writing or publishing to read the article and feel good about some good news. It’s about time, and hey, take it if you can get it.