Sunday, March 07, 2010

Bad News/Good News

Marcia Lee Laycock is launching into worlds unknown from central Alberta Canada where she lives with her husband of 30 years, two golden retrievers and a six-toed cat. Her novel, One Smooth Stone won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. The sequel will be released this summer.

I attended a seminar recently put on by the Writers’ Union of Canada. The first presenter, Ross Laird was obviously very savvy about all that is currently going on in the publishing world. At first the changes he outlined were rather discouraging. He stated there are now fewer opportunities for emerging writers in the traditional publishing spheres and even established writers are finding it hard to get their next book into print. Editing is no longer done by many houses, leaving it up to the authors to make sure their work is polished, at their own expense. Mid-range publishers are having a hard time staying afloat and at every turn the bottom line is paramount.

It would seem that publishing is no longer driven by the quality of the manuscript but by the marketing department. A “platform” is mandatory for all authors and they have to present a solid marketing plan of their own before a publishing house will consider their work.

Add to that all the fast-paced changes happening due to the world wide web, and things look unstable at best. Ross quoted an agent who lamented, “the sky is falling and the ground is shifting all at the same time.”

But then he smiled and began to talk excitedly about the opportunities these changes are opening up for writers of all kinds all over the world. He showed us clips from YouTube and examples of web pages and blogs where people are doing creative things and even making some money while doing it.

Then he said something that made me smile. “Freedom for writers today means finding joy in the turbulence.”

I like that perspective. Instead of moaning about all the changes and fearing the future, we can jump in and enjoy it as we adapt and learn and reach out to the world. Never before have we been able to reach so many people so easily and quickly. Never before has there been so much potential for creativity and free expression.

As writers who are Christian I believe finding “joy in the turbulence” is particularly apt. Who better to smile at the chaos than those who know there is One who stands firm and unchanging? Who better to embrace the changes than those who recognize the world is illusory and true reality lies beyond. Who better to step up and engage them the world with all the creativity we have been blessed with than those who know its source?

Some have said the changes in the publishing industry can be compared to the invention of the first printing press. That event changed the world. The current events are taking us into worlds we didn’t even know could exist. I wonder, what amazing things does God have in store for us all as we launch into them?

“Joy in the turbulence.” Amen.