The Foliate Head
We all stayed up late, all except Mike, whose plane was cancelled last night. He got up by three in order to catch a plane at 4:00 a.m. and arrived in Chicago just in time to have a danish before running a workshop.
And now I am avoiding the mountain range of books in the guest room and frittering my precious time. Thanks to @tedgioia on Twitter, I just read Penelope Trunk's article, "How I got a big advance from a big publisher and self-published anyway." I have some fascination with these barn-burners who leap into self-publishing. I suppose my response would have to be "How I got little-to-decent advances from big publishers and small and university presses and published with them and didn't have time to worry about it a whole lot." In the comments she replies to someone with a question about fiction:
"Action that will earn the author more money than any book" is certainly a nonfiction idea for those looking for fat speaker engagements and other mysteries. But what about fiction?
Johnson said that "nought but a fool" wrote for anything but money. Of course, I just wrote a very long series of poems about a fool... And what I really care about is the deep pleasure of writing, and also the frolicking with readers that comes afterward--dancing my dance of words with readers. At the moment I particularly care about novel readers dancing with me on top of an imaginary boxcar: A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage.
Anyway, I could hardly be paid for a lifetime of pushing words around the page for the joy of it. Who could afford it? And I have done that perfectly unwise for sales yet delightful-to-me thing of writing in many genres--novels of many sorts (realist, irrealistic, historical, coming-of-age, multi-genre, etc.), short stories, novellas, lyric and other poetry, long narrative sequence of poems, extremely long poem (i.e. epic), and stories and novels for children.
And I have certainly not given up on publishers, even though I'm one of those writers who turns in a clean copy that does not need a lot of editorial scrubbing. What I do ponder is what my publishers can do for me that I can't do for myself, and how to best use their limited marketing time. What is effectual, rather than just an exercise in treading water? It seems to me that a great deal of labor is misdirected, mine as well as theirs.
One question pops up; now here come a thousand. Mostly I don't mull these things because I'm more interested in what I'm writing. Perhaps I should think more about these issues, now that I'm committed to a summer and early fall of major reading. But just this instant I must go to the book mountain and grab another book and climb into a dream.