Well, look out; I’m one of five UNblogger competitors selected for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival. My pass is in the mail and I’m excited. A minimum of ten events are on my obligation horizon (oh, what a hard life it is) and from them I’m to wrestle at least eight blogs, so watch this space! This year’s festival is all about …
Ye gads, the title makes me think of ebooks. But maybe that’s just because I’m involved with the possible creation of one; a collection of short stories for an otherwise papery literary journal; and I’ve already been confronted by the question that perhaps the ‘good’ ones are ‘too good for an ebook’ and wondered if I should go ferreting around for an Arts grant to make a ‘proper’ paper publication possible. An idea that doesn’t stray too far from my heart’s desires.
How to tell a good writer I want to include their work in a compilation that will probably sell for $5 or less (that’s fewer to all you grammarians out there)? Is that a bad thing, or a great thing? The writers will be paid as much for their e-version as they would the print version … but they will literally be ‘stories unbound’ – there’ll be no binding, no papery love, no texture.
But the stories have to get out there and isn’t e-publishing a great way to go because it isn’t such an economic investment and don’t they say that short stories never sell? Unless you’re Margo Lanagan, or Nam Le, or Lydia Davis or Junot Diaz, or Flannery O’Connor, or … but you know what I mean. And stories are important.
Yes! Stories are a primal impulse of the human psyche. Stories are how we make sense of our world, of each other, of ‘fear and dream and death and birth, [that] cast upon the daylight of this earth, such gloom …’ They’re ‘why man [sic] hath such a scope for love and hate, despondency and hope’.
Unlike the romantics, we’re not as clear about such things in 2011. Even ‘story expert’ Robert McKee seems a little confused about where stories come from and what they’re for. On the one hand he says stories aren’t buried like treasure ‘in the ground of life’, wanting to be told and just waiting to swarm from their graves, but that they’re in the writer and sparked to genius by the inspiration of unearthing the treasure buried in the ground of life … erm, see how tricky it is?
And here we are, in Melbourne, ‘city of literature’, flocking to writers’ festivals, and it’s not because we want more celebrities (the music and film industries have that sewn up), but because we want to know and hear those who have the talent and courage to go searching for that buried treasure (and don’t forget the graves); because we want genius to visit; we want stories unbound. And because we understand their delicious value; even at $5 or … fewer.
Cross-posted from 9fragments.