|Posted by Mark Cantrell on March 29, 2014 at 11:50 AM|
Satisfying the demand
THERE’S an old saying in the trade that I am rather fond of, if only because it means I can lurk safe and sound in the ‘background’: “A journalist should never be bigger than the story.”
Alas, that maxim doesn’t quite apply to the novelist.
The author of a book is rather expected to step out of the shadows and take to the podium. There, squinting in the limelight, we’re supposed to take a deep breath and promote, perform, promote all the more.
But not in so obvious a way that we come across as a market stallholder hawking our wares to the passing crowds; where at least that performance is all part of the show, expected even, and not simply a tawdry invitation to become treated like a cheap cold-caller.
No, the poor author is somehow to become a part of the story, not a cheap salesman, nor still, alas, but a messenger lurking in the background. The novel is us; we are become the novel.
It’s all about branding apparently. The poor novelist becomes the substance of their brand, the novels the encapsulation of their name, the instant signature tune of identifying syllables that say… well, they say whatever the main thrust of your novels happen to be.
Pity the poor author, then, as they stand beneath their name, nipped and tucked, pruned and clipped to fit, a breathing proxy for fiction made flesh. If they’re lucky, the brand doesn’t become a straightjacket for the words, nor a cuckoo avatar that subsumes the author’s true soul, sold for a few dust jackets.
The things we do for fiction. You couldn’t make it up.
And so do we stand, naked of obscurity, before our audience. It doesn’t come naturally, I can tell you.
This bloog first appeared over on Koobug.