I don’t know if I want to call this a manifesto, because that’s too severe. But it’s more than a personal statement. If anything, it’s an introduction. To what, I don’t know, and everyone knows not to start at the beginning, but that’s where I am so that’s what I can write about – beginnings.
But it isn’t really the beginning, is it? The beginning came years ago, the middle, and the end, too, and then it just started all over again. I’ve lost track of the beginnings, the middles and the ends, so here we are again, despite our broken hearts and disappointments, willing to believe one more time and have a go at it.
And maybe what makes it different this time is that with age, with an intimate knowledge of what failure feels like, we no longer have expectations. Perhaps it would be better to say that our expectations are properly adjusted, we are able to deleverage the ambition and come to this beginning with steady hands.
What the hell am I talking about?
This beginning rejects the traditional business model of publication. When a kid wrote a song and put it to an eight-track mumbling and strumming chords with stumbling nervousness, when another kid took his camera and gathered up his friends, running that reel at twenty-four frames a second and tried to capture a story, they did not wait for the gate-keepers to give them leave to became what they already were. A musician. A film-maker.
I think it’s time for writers to do the same.
Does this mean we no longer need drafts? Do we fire from the hip and overrun the audience with the ruinous result? Far from it. When we shoulder full responsibility then we take on the onerous task of ensure every step of the process – the proofs, the edits, the drafts, the layouts, the production. Let’s make books and be responsible for them, from the beginning to the end.
This will not be easy.
So, here we are at the beginning, starting not with a declaration nor a manifesto, we are far too experienced for such grand gestures, nor are we young enough to still harbor the raw fire to go the distance to make this a revolution.
This is just another beginning, and I hope you will come along and see how this journey plays out.