Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Saturday afternoon bellyache and woolgathering session about the future of fiction

Since I’ve written a novel in the time of the great publishing wars, I’ve been thinking a lot about as to how I am going to get it out there.  And what my baby will look like upon its arrival.

I remain hopeful that a small house will see its potential (and some wise Canadian celeb will pick it up and make it their cause to defend on “Canada Reads.”) Or there’s always the secret prayer….”Dear God, please let me win the Giller or any award really at all and I will die happy.”

However it is becoming a lot more likely that I’m going to be cozying up to Amazon (more on that when and if) or even going it alone via a social media strategy which will accompany a series of podcasts, mega blogging, then selling my eBook and perhaps offering hard copies to readers who still like the idea of owning a book as an artifact.

Isn’t it sickening to think of a book as an artifact?  An artifact is something from an older time, something archaeologists dig up.

Doilies are artifacts, arrowheads, 45s, bowler hats, flapper dresses, a horse and buggy or a steamer trunk. Those are artifacts. Not a book. Artifacts are hermetically sealed in glass boxes,  housed in museums and when in public hands, are frequently fetishized objects.

Or…they belong solely to the wealthy….Or to certain individuals who will use books (likely hard copies) to visually telegraph what their interests are, and the fact that they can afford to buy real books and you can’t.

Which takes me back to eBooks and the warning shots, hell not shots, more like the energy beams emitted from The Death Star currently being fired at literature.

Is it true that it’s dead and I’ve spent the last nearly 5 years of my life creating a well written artifact?

I don’t believe it. The idea of story is as old as some of our very first artifacts – cave paintings that tell what? They tell stories. And what does a story require? A story teller, an audience, and a conduit of exchange.

There’s the tradition of oration, then we had traveling theater like the passion plays and Commedia dell’arte and so on and so on until the printing press and then books as we know them (where the authors became sequestered away from their reading public) but now the model has changed yet again.

As I write this post it has become extremely clear to me that what I will have to do in order to tell my story, is to harness the power of digital media to be in as direct contact as possible with my audience. I must be like Virgil and move from town to town, site to site and byte to byte to share my yarn.

Do I like this idea? Well, it is significantly different than the notion of being sequestered in my study, with my loyal dog at my feet. But that lifestyle is what’s really the artifact. Writers who embrace digital storytelling and learn to engage with their audiences on the Internet might just succeed. And those who don’t?…

Where’s that Death Star? I think I hear it humming.



I've Been Out Campaigning

For the very first time in my life I’ve been out knocking on doors. Why you might ask? Because very few good people are stepping up to the political office plate.

I don’t blame them. The paparazzi/press is horrible, the partisan bickering is offensive, it’s nearly impossible to get things done, and the public is either apathetic or abusive. Who would want that job?

In the old days lots of folks did.

Why am I not running? Because I’m scared of all of the above, but I’m not scared of knocking on doors and talking to people. Well actually I was scared about that at first, and being a farmer/downtown Toronto urban dweller, I was also very nervous about having the canvas the suburbs.

Guess what I found? Out of about 150 houses there were only three people who were annoyed, and it wasn’t offensive, they just wanted somebody to express their frustrations too. So I listened, and I didn’t try to sell them on my candidate and I didn’t slam the others. Who am I to do that?

I just handed them a pamphlet and asked them to vote.

And now to my fear of the suburbs. After my 3 hour walk I could truly see why young families want to live there. Hilltop in Ayr is a small thriving community of kids on bikes, trikes, strollers, gardeners and chatters. They’re all friend. Most everyone had a smile on their faces and I really feel that I made a connection with my neighbours.

I think that getting to know your neighbours and trying to do what’s best for them collectively so everyone’s life improves is what politics used to be about.  Or should be about.

Just imagine if we could get back to a place like that again. And I can tell you, that there sure are a lot of very kind, decent people out there.

So on Thursday, don’t forget to vote. It’s not my business for whom, but just get out there and do it.