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Whimper

whimper
Johannes Vermeer: The Concert (circa 1664)

"Thanks for coming to my table."

The final essay in my Authoring Series should wrap up my investigation, and I suppose that this piece might manage to do precisely that, though it won't succeed in the way I'd imagined it might when I started this series three months ago. Then, I had the writer's equivalent of visions of sugar plums dancing around in my head, for I, as seems so often the case, began this enquiry under innocently false premises. I'd imagined that Authoring might result in some sort of a publishing contract and a physical book sitting coquettishly on some bookstore shelf somewhere. How nineteen forties, right? We're in the twenty-first century now and you might not remember the last time you set foot inside a bookstore, and online book shopping's different enough to not really qualify as book shopping at all. Further, the book market has been static since 2007 when 400,000 new titles were shoved into it. Today, four million new titles compete for the same shelf space, much of it virtual. My publisher, the one who published my best selling The Blind Men and The Elephant back in 2003, reports that the only books that stand much of a chance in today's cluttered market are ones tied to an existing marketing plan, a subscribed workshop offering or a frequent keynote speaker. That's not my manuscript. It's not my aspiration, either.

It might be that Authoring's no longer as I imagined it might be back when I started this enquiry.
It might be that the glutted and disrupted book market has utterly changed the meaning of Authoring. My publisher suggested that I might find success entering this market as a fiction writer, since fiction still sometimes manages to make marks in the more traditional fashion, but I can't imagine myself writing crime fiction. I don't know my weapons. I'm not anybody's idea of a romance novelist, either. In fact, this work, this very essay, is a work of fiction in that I'm reasonably certain that it's not the whole truth and nothing but, that I've embellished it somewhat for coherence and interest. (Hint: The butler did it.)

I managed to make it on that shelf and that book remains available. I have a ton of copies I never managed to hand out back when I still did workshops, and it's still in print, so I've experienced the traditional Authoring no longer very widely available, but like experiencing the sixties, those days long ago left the building and there's really no sense or use pining after them. This world's different so I might just as well welcome it with a bang or a Whimper.

It might be that I have been Authoring the whole damned time I've been so sincerely investigating, trying to come to some workable understanding how I might go about Authoring again. Since I had been looking outward, I might have not noticed that I was in fact doing in here precisely what I was seeking out there. This that you are witnessing right this very minute is the product of what I might now refer to as Post-Modernist Authoring. This in lieu of a book and a shelf, physical or virtual, this also in lieu of those leather elbow patches I once imagined myself wearing as an Author in good standing. Authors sit mostly, and post to blogs and stuff, and invite people to join their Audience, like you did, and we feed them fresh stories, daily in my case, and while this might not very closely resemble what Authors once did, we inhabit the future now and this is how we do it now in this formally disrupted market. I have been the Author I pursued. These words are a part of my latest book. If you've been following this series from its beginning, you just read another "book" which I, with your attention, Authored. This wasn't obvious to me until it was.

Now I feel like Moliere's
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Jourdain, astonished to discover that, untrained, I have been producing (almost) flawless (well, workable) prose, Authoring! I have been Authoring! I have been publishing. I have not been cluttering those beleaguered book shelves, actual or virtual, but I have been keeping a tidy footprint of a shop, open to all comers, not a commercial establishment. This morning which will soon transform itself from Winter into Spring, I complete this work, this "book", this sincerest act of Authoring, finally, belatedly, recognizing what I have been doing, perhaps not too late smart, just tardy, as usual.

My next death defying feat will attempt to more formally develop my Audience. Audience supports Post-Modernist Authoring, not publishers or book sales. The game belongs to eyeballs and attention. I calculated that if you, for instance, spent five minutes each morning reading that day's story, after a year, you would have spent a day and a quarter focused upon my writing. That's all non-refundable time. If I multiply that single person by the average number actually watching, about a hundred each day at present, I end up with a hundred and twenty-five days' attention over that year, or pretty close to a quarter of a year, the typical duration of one of my series. I produce a story each morning to keep the whole cycle going. If that's not Authoring, nothing is.

Thank you for following, for appreciating, for engaging with my Authoring. It would not have been possible, even in this Post-Modernist sense, without your presence. No bookstore or book seller required. Authoring's all about feeding an Audience. You're it! Thanks for coming to my table.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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