Kindling

The Palisades is a book that has been waiting patiently in my drawer to be sprung upon the world for years. Having written it over the course of four years, two of which were part of the John Rechy workshop in LA, and after many revisions, I put the book away for several reasons. One, it dealt in a very oblique way with my relationship with my mother, two, another story I had in my head had to be told, and three, life happened.

It is hard to be a writer. Single for most of my life with no other person to rely on to make ends meet, pick up my shoes, make me eat, etc. being a writer has been the foremost thing I wanted to always be. But I also needed to make money and I do have a job I love, but it has kept me very busy over the years.

I’m not good at making lists, which is very important for a person to do if you send out manuscripts to a number of various publishers, agents, contests and the like. It takes a sort of discipline that I lack. In other words, I have no left brain. As evidence, it takes me no less than five tries to get out of the house in the morning.

I also hear from writer friends that they spend a great deal of time marketing their books even when they are published by large houses. I spend a lot of time marketing by utilizing Facebook, Twitter and researching literary blogs online that match the theme of my book on my own. Sure, I’d love to have a publisher and go the traditional route (in fact, I’m trying to do that with my new novel), but e-publishing is changing by leaps and bounds. One writer today said that traditional books will be dead in five years time because the new generation has stated that they’d rather read on a device, much as they text, than carry around books.

My hope is that an agent/publisher stumble upon or be led to my book, read the critiques that Amazon allows readers to post and then decide. In the meantime, people are reading The Palisades, a conversation is starting and they are passing their opinions on to others, which has been deeply gratifying for this writer for this book.

All of which brings me to Amazon Kindle. I’ve been following the advent of e-reader technology now for a few years with interest. Then, this year at CES 2010, e-readers were the talk of the show with several companies coming out with their own versions followed by Apple’s announcement of their iPad at the end of January. It seems that the future is quickly coming upon us writers.

I still love the feel and touch of a book in my hand. Turning each page, seeing how far I’ve read and how much more I have to go – when you’re reading Ulysses or War and Peace that’s saying something. However, in Seattle we have the beautiful Olympic Sculpture Park, which contains a huge sculpture of a typewriter eraser complete with circular rubber wheel and feather brush top. When I have young people in my car under thirty years old, I always ask them to identify it and none of them know what it is. Hearing their answers keeps my mind pointing to the future and embracing it.

Books will live on, but they will not live on as those individual things in our hands that my generation and generations before me love so much. Traditional books are going to go the way of cassette tapes, vinyl records, eight tracks. Just think of all the boxes you won’t have to move when you sell your house!

Books will, however, live on as stored files in e-readers or other devices and some will come alive with video, voice, photographs or better yet, written words that conjure up lives, locales and beauty as they have for centuries.

And people like me, a decent writer with no left brain, limited list making skills, and a need to write still more books in the time I have left, now have a place to put their books and let their friends and family read them if they wish for a nominal fee. And if the book is well received as The Palisades is starting to be, it may have the chance to take on a life of its own, which has always been the point of writing, yes?

I feel as if I’m adding kindling to the fire that is the Kindle and many other devices that are on their way into people’s lives. I may not please the writing establishment, but my intent is on pleasing the reader and holding up a mirror to their lives so that they can discover the things I did while writing mine.

The Palisades is currently available on Kindle at http://www.Amazon.com.

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