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This really deserves more....

..., but as Ivanova would say, I'm in the middle of 15 things, all of them annoying. Still, I've got time to at least throw the short form of my thoughts about this out for you to take a swing at.

Recently, in another forum, I mentioned that an author who is writing a series of books had announced that the next volume would be out in July. Actually, his publishers, in two countries, announced it, with a firm date.

One friend said, "I'll believe it when I actually hold it in my hand."
Another said he refused to buy it, in order to "hit [name withheld] in the pocketbook."

Look, I'm as anxious to read the next installment as the next person. I'm a little frustrated myself with the plot lines that seem to be turning into something as complicated as a dendrite web. And I really hate that my favorite character got killed off in the first half of the first book. And the Wheel of Time experience has made me a bit gun-shy, too.

But that said, where does the reader get to demand anything of the writers? In what way do the writers "owe" us anything? Even if they say "I'm working on it and I expect to be done by July 2009" in what way does that obligate them to give it to us? It's not like they're on salary. We pay them when there is an actual product to purchase. I'm baffled by the notion that readers should make the writer suffer by "hitting them in the pocketbook." They aren't tech writers, applying a specific skill set to a narrowly defined task (having done some commercial writing, that seems a fair description) with a deadline. This is a creative enterprise. They are gestating, creating, building...and even if it takes for-bloody-ever, we have absolutely no place being tantrum-y children about it because we didn't get our ice cream when we wanted it.

To quote Dennis Miller, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
not trying to name drop but here gos

Hemingway was my stepfathers good friend for 20 years when EH killed himself Joe went in to a downward spiral his own depression hitting really hard. A year or two after that joes wife was diagnosed with cancer and joe spent almost a decade taking care of his wife and dealing with depression. When he was widowed and later had my mum as his companion and editor he started writing again.

but for years there was the "mystery" of why he stopped writing, and throughout the new york litteraray world and in print people talked and wrote about this. WAITING for more Mitchell work. people loved his work but he had no obligation to produce more the fact that he did is great but I allways hated the ongoing speculation about private world.

In some ways a trilogy is an implied contract with the reader but art is not obligation.
Mar. 5th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
I agree completely, and I think you're on the same bandwith as John Scalzi in this post. I thought you might like to read it if you haven't already.
Mar. 5th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
I think Neil Gaiman said it best:

"George R.R. Martin is not your bitch."

The rest of his response is worth reading.

Mar. 5th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
I suspect that this is exactly why Beethoven pretended to be deaf toward the end of his life.
Mar. 6th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
I'm the one that said "hit him in the pocketbook". The reasons I said that I expressed my skepticism and annoyance with {AUTHOR'S NAME WITHHELD] are many. Here are a few:

1. For years, he's been promising that he'd deliver this book any minute now. Then, he gets an opportunity to do something in the TV or film industries and he drops the book.
It's his right to go where the money is but don't string us along. That shows a basic lack of respect for his readers.

2. I'm quite certain that the only reason the new book is coming out is that the series is coming out on HBO/Showtime or one of those movie channels.

3. I'm kinda feeling like he's written himself in a corner and I'm not sure how he's gonna be able to legitimately resolve all the mess he's gotten his characters into.

4. Funds are tight and I'd rather reward a writer that I think is gonna finish a series that he/she starts.

I'm sure I'll borrow it and read it at some time. Voting with my dollar is just the only way I can express my displeasure.
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
There's a comment posted recently to this thread you might like to read--it's actually very supportive of your position, and the source has a very high degree of credibility in terms of this topic! I hope it makes you smile.
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
Multi-volume stories, which comprise one single plot-line, pose special challenges for both writers and readers. I think the ideal situation is for the editor to have all volumes in hand, or enough so the writer can revise what has been written and finish the rest on schedule for a good spacing, perhaps 6-9 months between releases.

Alas, this does not always happen for lots of reasons, not all of them within the writer's control (books and series can get orphaned and hence dropped into the lap of a new editor who is utterly uninterested in someone else's project, sales figures can plummet due to distribution problems, and Life Happens to upset even the best intentions).

Speaking for myself (and every other pro writer of my acquaintance), I value the loyalty of my readers, as well as their understanding during difficult times. I suppose it does happen that writers, like any other human beings, become arrogant and take readers for granted or fail to honor the commitments implicit in a multi-volume work. In the past, readers haven't had too many ways to express their frustration. I can see why the "hit him in the pocketbook" response sounds mean-spirited, but I don't hear that the reader means the author owes him anything. Rather, the long delays and sense of being insignificant have exceeded the reader's patience...and his loyalty.

I won't comment on TV or movie deals or this particular author/series, but as a writer, I'm paying attention to "That shows a basic lack of respect for readers" and "Funds are tight." That's cold hard market reality. (Which is one reason why my editor has all 3 volumes of my original fantasy trilogy before the first one is scheduled.)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )