I used to live with this wildly romantic idea that I would graduate from a state university and make my living in the world writing novels. Big, thick American novels that readers would contort their backs and spines while reading in bed or on an airplane. Today, I write for a living. Every now and again it involves fiction or a book, but not often enough.
Frankly, I’ve had to lay down the romantic side of writing with the deep realization that maybe, just maybe, a novel is not the most conducive avenue for presenting the thoughts and ideas I have. All of those years spent studying the great – and not so great – only to be left with the question: is the novel even worthwhile in our culture anymore? Each time doubling down with the answer: yes. It is important. Even essential! If only to me.
Always seen as the romantic, the writer is still at the bottom of the barrel. Today, as it was decades ago, they produced the raw material. Editors and agents and publishers went to work on making it what we know it to be.
The cost of entry into the writing landscape is remarkably low. If you cannot do anything else, you can at least make content. Paste words into editor boxes and address all of the squiggly lines. Add a photo, don’t forget your hashtags. Press publish and watch it go out into the world. A series of boxes with words that look like every other series of boxes with words. Reading comprehension is a necessary skill which we have effectively untaught ourselves.
Pick up a novel and you know you will be treated to a story. Grab a newspaper and get the facts. Everything else is usually open to interpretation.
I knew I wanted to use Patreon for something; I just didn’t know what it was.
As easy as it would have been to say “here is a place to give me money so you can look at what I do for free,” that would have failed. Miserably.
Of course, this could fail miserably too. I knew I had to use Patreon to push myself in a new direction.
So I turned to print.
In a world of content management systems and editing platforms geared to make publishing easy, I wanted to go the other way. Publishing online is easy because a template takes care of the rest. Publishing in print requires something else. It requires layout and patience and assessing if the right words are next to the right images. Are the colors right? Will this print correctly? Will this stock stand the test of time and a hundred reads? Will this make a statement on a coffee table?
There are more barriers to print. More chances for confusion and frustration, and I feel behind all of that there is more opportunity. More of a chance to present the work I wanted to make in the way I wanted it to look, to the people I wanted to read it.