Sometimes I wonder, am I a part of the problem?
The ‘problem’ I am talking about is something I see in my daily life, the erroneous idea that everyone has something of substance to say and their opinion matters in some real sense. Most people have nothing really important to say, no matter how much they claim otherwise. Indie publishing has extended the power of the Internet to authors who would otherwise face years of rejection.
I love self-publishing; Amazon and the other platforms allow people circumvent the toxic culture industry and make their own. I still believe it was worthwhile that I did it, if only for myself.
There are thousands of blogs and millions of Internet comments every day. There are hundreds of thousands of books published every year, thanks to Amazon and the other indie publishing platforms. Readers will find the “good stuff,” goes the common logic. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Fifty Shades of Grey, the James Patterson book-du-jour, or David Weber‘s latest book (as much as I liked his SF) are not Homer or Hawthorne or Twain or any other classic. Art is not just mass entertainment, and that includes literary art. It is very bourgeois to assume that art is simply produced for the fleeting pleasure of observer.
The writer and painter Wyndham Lewis told his socialist compatriots in the early twentieth century that capitalism was the ultimate egalitarian force. There is nothing about a free market that dictates values, taste, choice, or tradition. At the time, the Bloomsbury Group types scoffed at him, as capitalism was associated with conservatism. Now we have–as Lewis foretold–capitalism that plays into divisive identity politics, an idea I commented on in a previous post. There is nothing about freedom or free markets about identity, culture, or values.
I love to write, but at the same time I’m conflicted. I do not believe that everyone’s ‘voice’ is valid or deserves to be heard. In the indie publishing community, there is a back-and-forth meme that self-publishing has created a tsunami of crap. It has, in many respects. As I mentioned above, the common refrain is that readers will find the good books. Sales do not always denote quality. The mass market is fickle.
I want to stand by my principles and values, yet I will continue to write. I want to help create positive culture. I’m not sure if I am the right person for the task. All I can do is press on and write as best I can.