It’s an exciting time to be a writer. In the last ten years, we’ve moved beyond capitalism into an era of direct sales. And although it seems like we’re gliding–or stumbling–into uncharted territory, the truth is that this is really nothing new. Elizabethan poets circulated their own works among their friends at court, for example, and many writers through the centuries have published their own works, as well as those of their friends. I’m thinking of Virginia Woolf and how she started Hogarth Press to print her own works and then ended up printing the first UK edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. So, while circulating small editions of one’s own work may sound odd to us, situated as we are in the age of the commodity, it is probably just about as normal as it gets.
Yet I have conflicting feelings about publishing my novel Effie Marten on the Kindle (available at Amazon.com) and as a paperback, due out in the next couple of weeks. This is nothing more than self-publishing, to be honest. And it’s been drummed into me for decades that a respectable writer doesn’t self-publish, just as a respectable citizen doesn’t go into politics. (I have a little bit to say about that last topic, but I’ll save it for another post.) Likewise, many people thought I was crazy when I bought a small flock of backyard hens, but just as I found it incredibly satisfying to collect eggs from my chickens, taking direct control of my own food production, I also find it satisfying to present my work to my friends, relatives, and colleagues directly, without having to commodify my novel and make it conform to the competitive world of publishing.
I hope that if you have questions or comments about Effie Marten, or about any of the issues addressed in it, you’ll post them here. But in the coming months, I’ll also post other short essays and musings about writing, about history, and about what it means to be a writer–and I hope you’ll get involved then, too, because what I’d really like this blog to turn into is a rousing discussion among people with similar interests.
In the meantime, do I have a deal for you! The first three people who post below with the answer to the following question will receive a free, signed copy of Effie Marten. How’s that for marching to a capitalist drumbeat?
The question is: Why would anyone name a blog about writing “The Tabard Inn”?
Good luck, and Happy Writing!