Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Crystal Ball is Broken

by Linda Robertson

Happy New Year!

We Word-Whores are blogging this week about our predictions for 2013.

I don't have any.

I am not a trend-follower and I have no interest in dissecting and anticipating the market. I give little credence to market predictions because they tend (my Word-Whore fellows excluded) to speak authoritatively about (insert drumroll here) "WHAT WILL BE" and that makes me cringe. The future cannot be pinned down to the expectations of rumor mills, gossipmongerers, or loud-criers. They are guessing. Sure, it is educated conjecture sometimes, but other times...not so much. Voices parroting other voices is bullshit. So is the notion of saying what folks want to hear--or the opposite--for hype, buzz, and attention.

Besides, sorting through the fluff and lip-service to find elusive grains of truth is the stuff exhaustion is made of. Granted, I thusly have a narrow view from my writing perch. Trying to widen that vantage point would require that I read headlines and articles, that I subscribe to periodicals or online groups that post informative data for writer-type consumers. A commitment I could make, but all of that would steal precious time from actually sitting down and writing a damn good novel.

Furthermore, if what I unearthed in my quest for What's Coming For The Publishing Industry left me apprehensive, it will impact what I produce. My clenched-up inner turmoil will creep onto the page. If my mind is divided between all my regular daily concerns, my writing and that underlying worry about the book business, then less of my focus is on doing my job: writing novel length stories that have interesting and engaging characters in exciting and inescapable plot lines.

Overall, I'm not just comfortable making speculative hypotheses about the market. Since I haven't sought the scoop and haven't acquired any evidence or testimony, there's no sense of authority telling me I should consider what fate might overcome the industry in the pending months.

I prefer to focus on "WHAT CAN BE." Personal introspection I am good at. What can I make manifest in the pending months? I can answer that. Because I know without a doubt that I can and will work each day, creating a story better than the last, building it with constantly improving skill.

I can see how this can be taken as indication that I lack professional interest and career-mindedness, or that I haven't a head for business. I would counter with: Just the opposite.

It is my opinion that the literary agent is the one who needs to be on top of current market data and savvy to all the nuances of the genres and particular publishers that affect their clientele. After all, being able to sell stories is their bread and butter. Having this same knowledge is not necessary for an author; having stories written and ready to sell, however, is.

I am not implying that writers seeking to stay abreast with the industry is in any way bad, negative, or wasteful. I'm saying that I personally don't put any time into such. My dream, my goal, is to write the stories I am compelled to tell. It brings me more joy and a greater sense of fulfillment than any other job I've ever attempted. All my spare thoughts are for the stories, not the industry. Producing a novel is no small, quick, or easy feat in itself, but that is what I happily, willingly, joyfully do. The rest I leave to my agent. And I feel good about it.

If you are seeking predictions, I truly hope the insight the Word-Whores share this week helps you. :)

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