On Sunday I attended a film workshop. I was struck by the apparent insecurity of the players in this 'industry'. The number of über-bosses whose approval must be gained for a given idea. The number of tricks to be employed in making a pitch. The variety of pitches to be tried, depending on the opportunity given (toe in the door; two floors in an elevator; the full five minutes). The warning that most of these guys (gals weren't mentioned) have ADHD so speak slowly (counter-intuitive, that one). I went away (with a few ideas but) wondering why everyone doesn't just stay home and make their own movies for Youtube instead.
I also talked with a fellow writer: months were ticking by and she hadn't heard back from the publishers who had her manuscripts. The publishers' lists were shrinking. What was she going to do if no one would take her work any more?
That recalled for me my own surprise last year, when Longacre was sold to Random who no longer required its Dunedin editors (or designer, office or production staff). What do we do when our work's not wanted by the big, market-driven publishing houses?
I said to my fellow writer that we could start doing things for ourselves — that this might be the message of the times. It's uncomfortable to contemplate. Starting from scratch at home. Rustling up our own resources. Figuring out a whole new lifestyle. And finding a way to put work out there.
But actually, the ways have been found and forged and they're open to anyone with an internet connection. They needn't imply a decline in quality. In the case of ebooks, we still have manuscript assessors, editors, proof readers, designers. This is democracy for writers — a multiple choice of outlets, a much greater share of the profits, a global market there for the visiting.
It's stretching and scary but it's also fun, cooperative, and more than a little energising. Not only in the writing but in production, too, we dance to our own tune.