The Week #16 15th March, 2015

Hello to ’The Week’ – this week I’m going to delve in to the world of books and, to put a finer point on it, being a writer. From my small grasp of it, writing is a delight! The ability to conjure up anything you want and pen it down is hugely liberating. Creating worlds we would love to go to and people we would like to meet, or even we wish we were. I think everyone should do it more often for themselves. The teaching of English in schools can be improved to have more creative writing in it. I appreciate that it is a difficult subject to teach but if we changed our approach to language and make it more individual, more exciting I think more children would ‘get the bug’. Writing is liberating and I have no doubt that, for me, it is up there as being the greatest job on the planet. To be a professional writer is an aspiration that someday, I hope, I may achieve but we are not here to talk about that, we are here to look at writing as a whole so I think I should start with the sad news this week of the death of Sir Terry Pratchett. The news of the untimely demise of the great man made me think about whether he was the last of the big epic story tellers? I suppose that comment is a bit extreme and even fairly negative to me and millions like me who wish to do as well as Sir Pratchett, but hear me out. With the modern world as it is, the book world has completely changed beyond all recognition in the last 20 years, to the point we are at now where anybody can write and publish a book. For example, I know of one other person from my school and my year who has published a book as well as myself – so that is two out of a hundred or so, so you can see how it is increasing as it is easier now with e-publishing but is that good?
Consider, now that anyone can publish anything it muddies the water with the amount of content out there. Most people would believe greater quantity is good and it is, to some regard, but what about the new Sir Pratchett’s of the world? Will they get through? I think that the issue here, with the amount of e-books being released now, the market is swamped and getting an actual publishing deal is almost impossible, unless your agent or publisher is willing to back you and invest in some heavy promotion money into it because there so much coming out all the time that even if you have a publisher and an agent you may only still only get a few thousand sales and be missed.
Is the literary world getting too crowded, even bloated? Are we missing great works because they’re buried so far under the bio about nonsense and chick lit books that are in vogue! You may think I’m just moaning because I’m not getting much attention. My first book isn’t doing ‘amazing’ and agents and publishers are taking an age to get back to me (seriously either say you like it or not – all this in-between stuff is pointless) but this isn’t self driven. I have come to terms with my writing ability and I do it for the love of it not just so I can be called a writer. I do it because it enriches my soul and has helped me get through life these past few years. I will stand in the front rank and say if people don’t like my book then fair enough, I’m not that good but there may be guys or girls who deserve more attention, more credit then they’re getting because there is just too much swilling around. There may be great stories, languishing in obscurity waiting for agents and publishers who, let’s be honest, are mostly English Lit snobs who lack imagination but have the power to decide whether its commercially right for this persons book to be shared with the world! It’s rather like having the doctor’s receptionist making the judgment call about whether you need to actually see the doctor or not. You would think that now the internet is here and any one can publish it might break the strangle hold agents and publishers have over content, and writers lives, but it doesn’t because the fact of the matter is that writing is a huge industry worth billions and billions a year and the truth that writing is one of the last great bastions of free speech and enables fun and frivolity is lost on these people who must march to the cold heartbeat of the ‘corporations’ and ‘corporate’ wo/man is not interested in expression, ideas, fresh stories that may be risky, they worship at the shrine of big profit, and more importantly, big returns for shareholders. The trending of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey is a prime example. I have no issue with the book or its content. Writing should be about anything and everything and it is up to the reader to choose what they want to buy and read but what I do object to is that what is ‘trending’ is all an agency will look for for months to follow. Couple this with the fact that writing is the only domain where it is an advantage to be female then books like Fifty are published, hyped and then copied repeatedly because there are no bold agents, no bold publishers, who will take a risk on something different – all seek to simply play the ‘commercial’ profit game.
I’ve started to rant so I best stop but it is because it irritates me, as a young male, that there are so few books available for me to read. There are a few books I can enjoy and then give to a girl I know and say this is a good read, you’ll like it but there are no all encompassing, great epic stories that are accessible to all. The writers world is still stuck in the past and doesn’t see what’s going on, this is why Hollywood recycle the same rubbish and it is why good TV is few and far between. All because the base level of new writing is being neglected and from that we are only getting clones of the same writing – the girl who writes about food and boys and nonsense or men writing about war or espionage there are no really new stories that are being taken up because the industry is broken. As a result we are missing out on so much talent as it flies under the radar then out to the ether online. A quote from Terry Pratchett sums it up “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”
So that it for this week, just my take on the writing world. I suppose I feel this because of the tragic death of Sir Pratchett has caused me to reflect and I feel fiction, pure escapism and therefore entertainment has taken a hit. There is so much good stuff out there, online, in all formats – isn’t it time we has a publishing industry that embraced creativity and not one that like all corporations, just chase the short term profit line. Where has the sense of adenture gone and the great entrepreneural spirit?
But that just one lonely writer’s point of view it be nice to hear what you think, if you have a view on this leave a comment. I hope you all have a good week and see you next Sunday.

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