Sunday, August 5, 2007

More on the Million Writers Award

I have been remiss. Were my life not insanely busy at the moment with numerous simultaneous projects - some of which have deadlines other than those I foolishly impose on myself - I would have put the following article up here much sooner.

This interview with Jason Sanford, the creator of storySouth and the Million Writers Award comes to me by way of Simon Owens, the founder of Bloggasm. This brief but inspiring article hits on many of the points which I consider to favor writers in the new century.

There is no question now, in terms of getting exposure, the Internet is the place to go to publish a short-story. Oh, sure, online publications are still struggling to gain "legitimacy" (whatever that actually means) for readers of the Paris Review and The New Yorker. But does anyone seriously believe that this will still be the case five years from now? Or ten?

At present, it is no doubt the case that getting a short story published in a top-tier is the biggest break for a writer (aside from publishing an actual book). But, unless one is getting a "professional rate" - can getting published in a small print mag be preferable to an online publication? The latter grants one much wider circulation, permanence, and a potentially more varied audience. There's also a much wider variety of markets for online fiction - innovative storytellers who would never make it into the stuffy world small-press print-lit are getting an audience.

This has all been said better elsewhere, of course. But I'd just like to make this additional observation - only internet publishing has the potential to revive the old tradition of the lunch-break read. Imagine that bygone era, 50 years ago, when short fiction was mainstream. All those magazines at the drugstore and the supermarket - marketed to actual adults, mind you, not libidinous celebrity cultists - contained fiction, some of it of a remarkably high caliber. So popular was the short story back then, people could actually make a living by writing them. Yes, for real. It actually happened.

That era is long gone, of course, and it ain't coming back. Writers are going to be poor hobbyists, despised by their neighbors and consigned to the curb to beg for scotch for the foreseeable future. But perhaps not forever. Because everyone eats their lunch at the office computer, and CNN news and funny animal videos get pretty effing boring after a few years of salary feudalism. There may come a day, just maybe, when the lunch-break becomes a time once again to read a story. Should that day come, I guarantee that this new breed of fiction aficionado will not be dribbling her ranch dressing onto the pages of the Paris Review. You know what I'm sayin'.

No comments: