Thursday, January 3, 2013

To my wonderful chums in the chasm...

I think the NZ Post Children's Book Awards are in good hands this year if this post by convenor Bernard Beckett is anything to go by. I had to laugh at the use of the masochist/sadist story - very apropos for book awards. And he's right I think. We might disagree on our favourites but most would agree on what reaches a good/the best standard. I have some books in contention but I am not overly hopeful. Its hard not to fall into that middle territory between not quite good enough for awards but not populist enough for commercial success. That middle territory always looks like a yawning chasm to me.

In my last post I bleated about some books that rode a tsunami of commercial success and yet were full of writerly annoyances. Things that I am repeatedly advised by blogging agents, editors and others should be fixed before an author even breathes in the direction of an agent, or publisher. One of the things that shocked me most as I stumbled for the umpteenth time over a missed editing opportunity was the fact that these books were agented and published by experienced industry professionals. Why didn't these professionals address any of the sloppiness or awkward technique? And what should I take from this?

In the end I take from it that publishing is an industry full of contradictions and exceptions. And being an author messes with your mind. Fifi Colston said it very well here. All the sparkly bits that the public perceive as being part of the creative life, all the things we dream of and hope for: the hordes of devoted fans, the soirees, the awards, the riches, the residencies, the festival invitations and the associated travel, are ephemeral, if they happen at all. We are all just usually huddling in the chasm together: despite the amazing talent and the hard work, the sweat, the tears and frustrations that you will find there. We keep trying to climb a little higher on the beautiful stories and illustrations that we are creating. But whatever else happens it is the fantastic company in the chasm that keeps me going and saves my sanity. Thanks chums

No comments: