Following up the previous post.The answer is: I would find a different way to express my creative urges, I would not choose to be a novelist. There are, thankfully, abundant ways to express creativity, even numerous and different ways to do it as one inclined toward language and story-telling. Making movies comes to mind first. But there is something afoot these days called “creative non-fiction” that I find intriguing. I think it is similar to what we used to call investigative journalism, but taken to a higher and more creative level.
I am thinking of much of the journalistic work Hemingway did as a young man, before he began getting his novels published, and even then he continued writing what today would be called creative non-fiction.
If I were like this young woman (left) or the young student I had dinner with last week, I would consider putting my creative literary impulses to work in that direction.
Look at what’s being done with creative non-fiction in the best of the print magazines out there — NYRB, New Yorker, Esquire, Vanity Fair, are the four I read regularly, but there are others.
I think there will always be work for genre novelists, and if I ever read genre novels, were I at all interested in genre novels, I would probably try to write them. But I am not capable of it, so it would be a failure and a waste of time. If one thinks one can be the next Jonathan Franzen, nothing is going to stop you from trying. But it is good to keep in mind the astonishing amount of luck involved in a Franzen-like phenomenon, and to understand that for every Franzen, there are ten thousand novelists (many better writers and story-tellers) who will never sell a book at all, or maybe languish on a midlist for a while before being dumped.
I think good film-making is a deeply creative craft. That is another avenue for creative literary expression I would consider. But I would need to be both the writer and the director to sustain the kind of creative control I am used to as a novelist. I am not talking genre blockbusters here, but more like Sundance work.
I believe that the revolution brought on by digital eReaders is going to so dilute creative writing that it will disappear from public life, probably with a round of laughter. (Note that Amazon’s Kindle is being hacked by profiteers who are uploading fake or stolen work because it’s easy money — as Mark Knopfler so aptly put it: money for nothing, chicks for free. This is not a world I understand or choose to be a part of it. So if I were young and starting out, I would look elsewhere.
That was the point of the previous post.
I’ll close with a contrasting photo to the young writer above — here is the old writer.