Joshua Gordon

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Guelph, Ontario, Canada
I live in Guelph - an artsy, tree hugging university town in Ontario. I work hard to be a creative and innovative influence in the places I find myself. Most of the time that looks like networking with other creatives, researching, or filling up my sketchbook / journal with ideas.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

a vision of my future

Dear Readers,

I am a budding writer in the thick of both developing my voice and searching out my purpose in this craft. I'm encountering some very heavy questions, not the least of these to do with finding success in today's 'writing climate'.

I am both daunted by and skeptical of the prospect of getting involved with the writing industry as it exists today: the publishing industry's landscape has been completely re-sculpted. Within publishing, sales and manuscript acquisitions are down. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are at an all time low, and online bookstores are virtually gutting conventional booksellers' business. In addition, the recent onset of a global recession has further crippled the industry, which now finds itself hobbling into an increasingly dismal scenario.

Writers such as myself are on the 'hinge-point' of a culture. We face the challenge of aspiring to make a living through an industry that seems to be on its last legs. Our desired profession must, on pain of non-existence, adapt to not only the viral nature of the internet, but also to faltering book sales and the displacement of reading as entertainment. My generation must be relentlessly creative in the face of mounting odds: we must innovate to save our future.

But I am only one person. I have ideas and passions, but one man is not a movement. My world is aching for hopeful discussion, for a new take on this messy realism. I am hungry for partners and compatriots to wrestle through all of this with me.

  1. How can new writers get their work into the hands of the public – and support themselves at the same time?

  2. Is it feasible for writers to collaborate with artists and sell a joint product (ie: book with a soundtrack CD in the jacket, or a series of paintings accompanied by short stories, etc...)?

  3. How can writers maximize the potential of natural 'gathering places' like coffee-shops or pubs?

  4. What, if anything, is wrong with with the current structure of the publishing industry?

  5. What's more important for a writer: getting one's name 'out there' or signing a book deal?

Well, that's the tip of the iceberg. I hope this is something you're able to dialogue with me about.


- Josh


B. Nagel said...

1. Have a day job at first, maybe always. Be relentlessly enthusiastic about your work.

2. Why not.

3. If you can promise a crowd (size depends on the venue, read crowd as 'family and friends'), most places are happy to have you do a reading. Be on the look out for Open-Mic nights. And be a good customer, buy coffee/beer.

4. A lot. However, there is a lot more information available now than there has been in the past with the advent of agent/editor blogs and the amazing resources available on the internet.

5. I'd argue that the most important thing is to write. And if that means that you 'get your name out there' by publishing your work on your blog, hooray! It's the second glance that sometimes makes the difference.

Good to see you back online. If you haven't run across it yet, check out this blog.

B. Nagel said...

Man, I suck at posting links.

shawn said...

I just came across this article on The Rabbit Room about the Amazon Kindle and the future of publishing. Seemed a little relevant...

~m said...

i love the idea of a soundtrack for a book :) like read-along tapes, only cooler.

whenever i got to chapters, i get the feeling that anyone can be published. and the president at my college says it's not superduper hard, if you're an academic and you want to write in journals. but making money off of it is another issue.

some - if not most - art is created because the artist can't help himself. not because it'll put bread on the table. i hope that won't deter you!

Shawn Miller said...

Sounds like you need a wealthy patron my friend. Classed society was not without its benefits...

Have you ever checked out The man does serious interviews pertaining to every subject imaginable with some very esteemed guests of import. I know he talks with Grisham and Chriton (forgive the mispelling) about this very issue.

Conventional wisdom teaches that monetary prosperity and success is the enemy of true art. At least to the "critics." Beware!