Wow! August is here, covid seems hell bent on staying, and I've been pondering many things with all this down time. One subject in particular has been plaguing my psyche...author expectations.
Gone are the days of Steinbeck, Christie, Orwell, and Woolf. When you could write a novel every five years, living off of the advancement your publisher handed you for your soul. Struggling with your creative juices, you could nibble on crackers, coffee and scotch, while pecking away on your Remington. Smoke filled days of hazy thoughts and self doubt. But you were an artist existing through the process expected from those who were deemed peculiar, eccentric, and gifted.
Fast forward to present day and the internet. Instantaneous information, self gratification, and an endless sea of writers who can pound out a book every six months. Competition is fierce and unbuttoning our layer of protective skin—a must. We need to present for all the world to see and our books have to be constantly filling the screen of iPhones, androids, PC's , Kindles, iPads, etc. No more relaxing, you get a book out...your job's not done, it's just beginning. Your publisher will expect your social media participation to promote no matter if they're small, mid-size, or Big 5. If you haven't had that #1 Best Seller attached to your name, then roll up your sleeves because it gets dirty. And even if you do have a name, there's still a certain amount of bleeding you must sign on for. This is the way of the world today and as authors, we're expected to jump on and navigate the treacherous waters of heightened knowledge.
I'll admit, I love the romantic notion of becoming the writer who lives off of bread and wine to sustain, and the acquired loneliness of a seedy little room where I'm locked away while I lay down words that will carry throughout time and provoke thought. But that's all it is, a notion. In order to succeed as a writer today, you must participate, grind the wheels of advertisement and make it shine for you.
So when I hear an author complain about it's not their job, this isn't how publishing works, they're not going to step off their self created pedestal, I think to myself, well then you better jump in your time machine and set it for 1930. The world has changed and if you're not prepared to move forward then you're just living in the past.