by Liz Flaherty
Saturday, Nan and I had lunch--are we the only people who have three-hour lunches?--and I drove the 75 miles home through 50-some mph winds. I now know the true meaning of the word "buffet." (Aside from Jimmy, that is, who has an extra "t" at the end of his name, and a really good meal where I don't know when to quit.) Earlier in the week, we had a couple of rainbows that Judy Garland could have rhapsodized over because they were so indescribably beautiful.
I've been whining pretty nonstop about what's being termed as Indiana's bipolar weather, but the truth is, it's always that way. Sometimes more than others. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Not just lately, but always. I remember being unpublished and praying for the day I would learn the secret handshake that went along with having a book "out." I remember flinching from the terms "training our replacements" (huh?) and "pay your dues." (What did they think I was doing?--RWA membership was expensive, for God's sake).
Now it is trad and indie and hybrid. The Them and Us mentality goes on. I write sweet romance and am of a certain age and prefer traditional publishing, which means I'm once again wanting to learn the damn handshake, to find a place where I can be included in the conversation without being talked down to or having someone roll their eyes. Those who write erotica and LBGT romance have had to fight to have their work included with traditional M/F in the genre.
The names and the positions have been changed, but the game is still the same, isn't it?
But I remember talking about writing instead of marketing. About voice instead of marketing. About conflict instead of marketing. About theme and plotting and point of view and why some of us hated head-hopping and some of us didn't really care...yeah, instead of marketing. I remember when spelling and grammar were indeed BFDs.
While I complain about the way things are now and the fact that no one wants to talk about what I want to talk about, I am still a child of the 1960s--I cherish new writers' rights and responsibilities to change things to what they want and need from the industry.
If I worry sometimes that readers aren't properly respected because their wants and needs fall between marketing cracks, well, I guess that's my problem. But I'd like to talk about it with other people who share that concern.
I told someone the other day that I thought RWA needed to have an AARP chapter. I said was kidding--I wasn't. Because I still want a room with a coffeepot and a bunch of writing friends where we can talk about writing and voice and conflict. Somewhere I can say, oh, my God, I'm blocked! I'm never going to write another publishable word! and someone will pour me a (large) glass of wine in case the coffee just won't do it and talk me off the ledge.
And, yes, it's always been this way. Probably soon, for a couple of hours, it will all calm down. We'll all get along. Until another Them or Us jumps up and bites us in the butt. And all of us in publishing will be like all of us in Indiana on Saturday--getting buffetted around like nobody's business, but...oh, look, the sun's out.
Just as I love living in North Central Nowhere no matter how hard the wind blows, I love being in publishing no matter how hard its winds blow. Because, pretty soon, there's gonna be a gorgeous rainbow in Indiana, and come some important day soon, like April Fool's, there'll be a new book out, and I'll say it again--it's the best job in the world.