Sometimes, in a calm lull of the writing process, you think you really don’t care about getting published since once your first story/poem/essay has been accepted, you’ve begun to call yourself a “writer.” You think the shine is off and yet you realize it comes anew with each and every “yes” just as the “no, sorry” can still pierce the skin–though it doesn’t cut to the heart the way it used to.
There was a day this past week where two of my pieces were published, one day after another. I was ecstatic! Both were solicited (versus normal submission) which is lately what I find myself doing–just because the submission process takes me so long to decide what to send and where to send it and how to keep track of it all. And one was in a print edition (Thunderclap Press) which still, regardless of how we feel about online literary magazines and our recognition of them as equal to print, still holds that little extra thrill leftover from the early days of ezines.
What cracks me up–though admittedly with a touch of sadness–is that aside from my fellow writers, my social network friends aren’t really impressed at all. I see tweets and posts that record each play of some televised game–a ball is thrown, carried, swatted, or kicked over some boundary and makes an extraordinary number of people excited. I admit that I’m not into most sports–a ball goes this way then that way then this way then that for a couple hours and that’s about all I make of it.
It dawned on me that this is reinforced at the college level, and starts early with Little League and elementary school sports and high school athletics. We’ve held onto that Adonis dream, that exultation of the human body, the athlete we shower with scholarships and contracts and advertising gigs and money beyond almost any other field of personal accomplishment. Americans, more than any other country, hold as their heroes their sports stars, their celebrity actors and actresses. All physical–very little cerebral idols here.
We don’t complain about Taylor Swift (and I like her) making $45,000,000 a year, or multi-million dollar contracts for playing basketball for a year. Somehow, we don’t want to look closely to see our money making them rich, but feel they deserve it because we’re entertained. Reading, I guess, is not entertainment any more. Writers don’t as a standard get paid anything for short stories and poems–they’re supposed to be content with the thrill of publication alone. Most writers of published books get very little, though big name celebrities (writers, yes, but sports stars and actors and politicians as well) and phenomenons are way up there in making money off a book.
You see, we don’t have readers willing to pay to read a story whereas we’re overloaded with watchers willing to pay big bucks to see a game played, or a concert or movie. And time is a factor as well, since these days, literature of all kinds, lengths and genres are available online for FREE. It takes about a minute to a minute and a half to read a 250 word flash fiction, which evidently is too long, even as we sit two to three hours watching a ball go this way and that, this way and that.
It’s times like this that I particularly wish that I were tall or pretty instead of smart. Or maybe I’m not so smart after all.