Thursday, October 22, 2009

Catchup: an allovertheplace entry

Everything is going well at the Cyberpunk Apocalypse--my personal opinion.
We're working to get together a second issue of the publication, that will be themed around the G20. The first issue is finally on the site! F yeah!
The Carnegie library system got a big cut (dropping branches (Lawrenceville included))--which sucks, but we'll see if we can't do something a
bout that.
On the upswing Sara got a few little clips in the "How Not to Cookbook." She got a free copy in the mail. It's an amusing publication--good for any coffee table or bathroom.
I've also been trying to find people to do illustrations for Elwin's short fantasy collection--urban fantasy, black folktale, and punk rock crammed into four stories that will enchant the shit out of you.
He really wants a classic illustration style like Arthur Rackham. If you know anyone feel free to email us: cyberpunkapocalypse(at)

I've been doodling around in case we can't find anyone, and this is what I've come up with so far. Sort of a metal album cover drawn by Charles Schultz. Point being, we'd like to do better. We'll need at least one illustration per story (4) and a cover--maybe by a different artist.

Fall--as usual--is jerking us around. There's a push to start an apocalyptic book club. An erotic fiction writing group. And who knows what else to make it through winter.

I went to a talk at Pitt about interrelated short story collections featuring Anne Sanow (winner of the 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize) and Cathy Day (writer, professor, and general bad-ass).

At some point they started talking about "the abyss"--meaning post-college, where you need to find your own community and motivations for writing.

Of course this is a particularly interesting subject to me--who considers the void a beautiful and vast playground full of good soil and helpful gnomes and the like to assist you on your journey to being a mature, developed, and innovative writer. I emailed Cathy a couple of days later about this and she responded with a very thoughtful and interesting email with an invigorating essay by Ted Solotaroff attached called "The first ten years: writing in the cold" from his collection "A Few Good Voices in My Head." The essay basically said that young talented writers are off their rockers, or at least set up for quite a trip in the "real world." (I don't really know who I'm quoting here--probably a lot of people have said "real world" (I guess I'm quoting them))

Cathy also pointed out that there are "822 degree-granting creative writing programs in this country, but Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin can’t afford to acquire new manuscripts due to low book sales." I must admit--it does sound ominous when put that way. It is also understandable that people have grown concerned about literary culture surviving this century, but I can't help but be stoked.

Obviously people don't come out of writing programs as good writers. Degrees don't make you
talented. Degrees don't give you unique and interesting things to say, nor do they inspire you to deliver these messages in a unique and interesting way. There are reasons to go to school--sure, but I'll let the rest of the world convince you of that.

And of course the big name book companies are going to be struggling. They are strong armed into deals with places like Walmart, putting all the risk on them and forcing up the price of books. Basically the big book sellers are always gambling for a best seller, and throwing hundreds away when the latest paperback doesn't get on Oprah's reading list. Making life harder for small bookstores, and writers, and publishers. That whole system is F'ed (reference--REBEL BOOKSELLER: HOW TO IMPROVISE YOUR OWN INDIE STORE & BEAT BACK THE CHAINS).

BUT! at the same time as this shit is happening something else is going on. Because culture never dies, it just goes underground and changes. And while big publishers are failing, printing is getting cheaper than ever. Homeless kids can publish their own zines--like the guy who got me into writing (homeless college student (does that count?)). Small publishing blooms. In fact with computer access you can publish and distribute an infinitely long full-color publication across the globe for nothing but elbow grease. TA DA! Welcome to the cyberpunk apocalypse.

Granted there's more shit to sift through, but there are more shit-sifting forums as well. The shit is sorted by the audience, not by the printers.

My point is this--if you are trying to be a writer there is nothing stopping you in this world. If you are trying to create something that will add to the collective moral and philosophical wisdom of this world, give it a go. If you want to aid, or disturb, the emotional and psychological well-being of the population--you have the opportunity.
If you want to make money--you can even do that. Believe it or no, people do make money off of their writing--their zines, not much, but some. If your good, you can probably figure out a way to pay for the car you sleep in.

The only thing stopping writers today is the limits of their determination, their capabilities, their
resourcefulness, and their scruples.

The game's the same. The field is bigger.

Phew, got to blurt for minute. Now I'm gunna go write.

1 comment:

Andy Laties said...

Hooray Daniel! Action must be taken.

Thanks for the book plug. Here's the story of getting Rebel Bookseller published. I'm glad you noticed that I put the whole thing online as well.