Monday, June 7, 2010

I've been thinking about the WUC workshops last Friday. Two panelists (each in a different panel discussion) deplored the increasing numbers of books being published each year. One noted that in 2008, self-published books outnumbered traditionally published ones, and expressed the view that most of the former group were not worthwhile.Then in another session, another speaker talked about the "profusion of debut novels" by writers who lacked "established literary reputations."

Both panelists evidently believe that the economic principle that "Bad money(debased coinage) drives out good" applies to book publishing. The trouble is, "goodness" is subjective. Perhaps these panelists are unaware that some writers, now considered "great", self-published their work. Henry David Thoreau and Virginia Woolf spring to mind.

Glancing around the room full of writers, I noticed two people, each of whom had self-published a book which I'd read. One had gone the route of co-op publishing. The other had chosen print-on-demand. Both these books are lucid, reader-friendly and adhere to generally accepted principles of good writing. In my view, these books have as much right to exist as anything published by established traditional firms.

Julia Cameron, author and creativity guru, asserts that everyone has a creative spark within. She has been told that, in helping people fan this spark into a flame, she has unleashed a lot of bad artistic works. Cameron replies that there is already a great deal of mediocre art around, and that a little more won't hurt. She also insists that newcomers to creative expression often produce works of great beauty. (see Writing in this World, Tarcher, 2002) I'm on Cameron's side, not the panelists', in this debate.

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