Monday, August 11, 2008

Going Out of Print

Today, I received an email from agent informing me that Burn and Picture Me Rollin’ are going out of print. Although I saw this coming, it’s no less disheartening. And yet despite the bad news, something inside my soul resonated.

I’m more than an author. Damn it, I’m a writer. I’m truly a fuckin’ writer.

Many thoughts – overwhelmingly negative thoughts – flashed through my head first. Fuck publishing. People getting imprints for trafficking in stereotypes, and I’m going out of print? Just stop writing novels and stick to…

Whoa! Slow your roll, Sof. Stop writing novels?

I can’t even imagine that. Some of the stories inside me – the ones I feel most compelled to tell – are novels. They’re not supposed to be films or plays, at least not in their original incarnation. The novels I write are meant for people who value the intellectual and emotional engagement demanded of literary text, whether that person is the feminist professor who assigns it to her (or his) students to the teenage girl who yearns for a protagonist who is much like herself or someone she loves. These stories were meant to be conveyed with the intimacy that only a book can deliver. That is, experienced one person at a time through words that can be absorbed at a pace the reader sets. A story such as Picture Me Rollin’ is meant to be revisited in an effort to discover layers and nuances. They are meant to be opened and closed, entered and exited, put down and picked up, ll to a rhythm that is unique to the person who signed onto the journey, his or her ideals and accomplishments, insecurities and regrets, passions and aspirations, in tow.

So many other things you can do with your eyes closed with much more reward and less frustration, but, no, you won’t pick up your marbles and go home. Dique you can’t do it. Yeah, you’re a writer.

I have known for some time that something needs to change. For example, I certainly need to become a much more effective promoter of my own work. Gripe what you want about what the house won’t do for you, the bottom line is, no one can care about your work more than you. Maybe I should consider self-publishing. Sure, I’ll trade off one set of problems for another, but what I gain will make prove them worthwhile.

And it can never hurt to do as much as I can to become a better writer. As paradoxical as it may sound, the less the industry values craft, the more imperative it becomes to cultivate it. Don’t ask me to explain that. I can’t. I just instinctively know it to be true and suspect that artists of all stripes will intuitively understand what I mean when I say that.

But not writing the stories that I feel compelled to tell, stories that I know have a broader audience than my sales indicate, stories that I truly believe can do more than provide a few hours of mindless entertainment… the idea crossed my mind, but my spirit immediately rejected it. Do you know what that means?

Yup, I’m a writer.

Maybe the trick is to invest in breast implants and make my way through a particular industry on my back, keeping a meticulous diary along the way. No, I just need to fuck one person. Someone strategically placed in the publishing industry, gender, sexual orientation, and marital status be damned. Or I maybe I can spend a few days cranking out something ridiculously commercial, wholly unoriginal and unapologetically salacious and submit it under a pseudonym of nondescript ethnicity. Or better yet, do something incredibly stupid yet public to become famous then hire someone else to write it for me under my own name.

Nah, I’m a writer.

If one of my novels had been optioned for film, made a bestseller’s list or received a rave review, I’d probably share that on my blog as most authors would (and should.) I decided to blog about my last two Black Artemis novels going out of print because, while few will admit it, this is the more realistic and common occurrence of being a novelist in the mainstream publishing industry. And oddly enough, the very compulsion to blog about this proves one thing that no one can deny.

For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, I’m a writer.


Raquel Z. Rivera said...

¡qué lata eso de going out of print! but que se joda. like you said...

you're a writer.

and there's many of us cheering you on from the sidelines.

Felicia Pride said...

hey sofia--

Thanks for sharing! Your blog is important and refreshingly honest.

Check out the blog I wrote today (something must be in the air) about whether or not I should break up with my book:

It's real in the field. Thank goodness we're built for it.

From one writer to another.

Anonymous said...

It's a painful thing to see hard work and well-crafted results have its fate rest in the hands of numbers, ratings and other factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the literature.

Pero sabes que? Success is the best revenge and if I know Black Artemis like I know I do, she's gonna rock out and then, poof, watch them novels magically reappear with a headline mooching off your next big thing.

But the sweetest thing about that: the leverage will be on your side.

So sigue adelante mama!!

Gwendolyn D. Pough said...

You are an amazing writer! I'm bummed because I love to teach your novels in my classes. But I know that you will come with more stuff, either fiction or film, for me to use to reach and teach. So write on, sis!

much love and peace,


Unknown said...

Thanks to everyone for dropping by and leaving encouraging words. I'm down but not out! And this is actually quite common and happens to almost all authors eventually, but there's a silence around it that troubled me. So, jodona that I am, I decided to break it. :) On a listserv of Latina writers, it's sparked a great discussion and has resulted in some bonding so good has come from putting myself on blast, LOL!