The Nouveau Meek

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How can anyone remain meek, once they’ve inherited the Earth?

I had a debate with a Jehovah’s Witness, recently. He had come to my door to reassure me of the scripture promising us that the meek shall inherit the Earth. When I suggested that this may have already happened–that those who were once meek may now be too powerful to recognize–the question arose as to what has happened to those who once held that power. If they are now meek, that promise of inheriting the Earth may be stuck in an infinite loop.

While the argument was successful to the extent that it sent the young man packing, it still resonates in my mind days later. It brings to mind a time when authors could only reach an audience if they first knew the magical incantation needed to attract a publisher’s attention. Most authors were, almost by definition, about as ‘meek’ as one can get. As technology has progressed, we are witnessing a democratisation of authoring: an ability to claim at least some kind of audience by simply logging into WordPress and blathering away, regardless of what some old mothballed ‘publisher’ might think.

Surely, this is something to celebrate… but is it also something to fear?

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Unpublished is the New Published


It’s been an interesting journey attempting to join the ranks of “published authors,” and I take this next step with even greater interest. Today, apparently, I become a blogger.

I’ll confess it: my spanking new blog is a direct response to publishers and agents who insist that I have a ‘social media presence.’ Charitably ignoring the oxymoron in this phrase, I’m told, by those who ought to know, that a ‘social media presence’ is more important on a new author’s resume than even the achievement of being published. Let’s take a moment to contemplate this: has writing become more about blogging and tweeting than it has about the actual development of novels and short stories?

If this is so, then it holds implications for the canon. A stanza of Wordsworth might be shrill enough for a tweet, and one might pin with interest some photos from a production of Gatsby. Where, though, does this leave the works of John Updike or William Shakespeare? Would J.K. Rowling, even, have been able to adjust her expanding tomes to the rush we might now place on her writing samples, before we move on to watch a skateboarding cat?

Of course, technology has provided opportunities to streamline the process of submission and publication (or, one might say, rejection). My degree in Computer Science had me appreciating, long before my peers, the ability to format a submission onto an online form or into an email message. Receiving feedback within weeks–some of which is very helpful–beats the heck out of the days that authors would find crumpled letters in the mail about projects they’d already forgotten. It is a different world, though, when technology stops saving us time in the conveyance of our writing, and starts demanding that we spend that time writing much shorter chunks of something else entirely.

Still, here I am, more than game to try my first blog post and see where it leads. Like any first piece, a first post deserves a unique angle, and I am happy with the irony in this one: I am happy, that is, to blog my objections about the necessity of blogging. I can only hope that there are a few authors out there who feel the same way; if not, then who is left to spend their time writing fiction?

So, to the publishers and agents who aren’t reading my new blog, I say this: Shame on you. Shame on you not for discarding all but the most saleable submissions into your slush pile, because that is an industrial necessity. Shame on you not for passing over submissions without corresponding, because your time leaves you no choice. Shame on you, rather, for basing so many of your decisions on how often your authors float their opinions, cramming their abbrevs into a tagline. You are the guardians of deep communication: the last line of defence against the temptations of fleeting thought and lazy grammar. Without you on the side of our words, our words will be lost.

On the other hand, if you are reading my blog, well… I’ve written some novels you might like to read when your ISP goes down.

Oh, and also: you’ve found my social media presence.

Check out my Projects And Samples menu for samples of fiction by K. Alan Leitch, both here and on websites where it has won some awards.