Yeah, so if you’re a writer I guess that you are supposed to chase after this grand notion of a Super-Fab novel that is going to change the city, state, world and the whole damned space-time continuum. Eh, count me out.
It’s not that I don’t want to write the sort of a story or novel or whatever that will be important and all that but it’s sort of a deadend path to follow, if you ask me.
Here’s the deal, how many books are written and released every year? Rhetorical question but, really, think about it for a sec. Of all of those books, how many will reach the sort of mass audience that it takes to do the whole changing the world thing? Ok, and from those how many will actually be received well and read by the masses. Then you have to filter it further into the scant few books that will be both good and profound and, there, my friends, you can take it on and on and the path splits into half a dozen directions.
See, it isn’t enough to write a good book, it’s getting it TO the bloody world, that’s where the pitfall is. There are thousands of books written a year and while a great deal of those are going to be crap, or mass marketed fluff intended to make a dollar and not change the world, some will be good. Some will even be great. However good those books are though, unless you have the backing, and the support, no matter how good that book is, people just won’t see it.
I can’t imagine the pressure of deciding that I was going to write that book. The ‘greatest book ever’. And sure, a lot of that sort of mentality is just bravado. It’s a challenge. A hope. A goal. But some of that is a wish, as well.
A wish for greatness.
No, not just greatness, for legendary status.
The hell of it is this, nothing lasts. Nothing. I worked in a used bookstore and there are shelves of books from people who, in another time, shaped the hearts and minds of that era yet, now, are nothing but names in a lit class.
The Great Country Name Here Novel is a myth.
It ain’t just a myth, it’s a ghost, and you don’t get very far chasing ghosts.
Each piece of art, written, drawn, painted, played, or whatever, has its merit and value and each piece can touch someone. If you are lucky, and good, then that piece touches a few people, and that’s how you become a legend, even if it’s only to a few people. You change the world a person at a time and that’s the best you can do. Sure, there are writers, Dickens, Austen, Hemingway, King, Joyce, and many more, who have written stories that have outlived them or shall. These are the greats of our era. And if you go back, you have the likes of Plato, Shakespeare, and the great poets. Time is forgetful though, and, in time, anything can be forgotten.
Even the greats.
Sure, every so often you’ll read a book review, or hear someone say that this or that is the Great Novel of that time, and maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t, but for every great work, there are a basket of people who’ll tell you different. For me, it’s about writing the stories, and after that it’s a bit of hope that people will read them and get something out of them. I won’t tell you I wouldn’t love to be a writer whose stories reach beyond me, beyond my life and death, but that’s not something I can worry about. All, I can do is write what I write, do what I do, and keep on working to get it out there.
The rest will work itself out.
As for this great old humdinger of a book though, well, dammit, didn’t you hear? I wrote it. Now I have to work on the Great Mexican novel and work my way around the Atlas.
Well, back to work, time’s a’wastin’.