Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Toward Oblivion

Dedication to the small press is, I think, admirable. If you are a writer, there is little or no pay for the writing you do, true enough. Yet even in professional publications there is little pay for what you do.

It was more the failure to realize much financial reward from professional magazines that nearly drove me out of science fiction, after writing quite a bit for those magazines in the early to middle 1990s. The low payment of the small press helped not at all -- but hardly worsened the situation. The small press never offered much promise, in terms of payment. I had been involved in the small press since the 1970s and knew what it was to write "for the love of it" -- for the testing of the spirit that it represented, for the challenge, and of course for the reward ... the reward, that is, of accomplishment.

In some ways small-press accomplishment is lasting in a way professional-press accomplishment often is not. It has a life that is sustained, oddly enough, by its very inconsequence; by its being positioned somewhat askew to the hustle-bustle currents of the mass-production marketplace; by its outsider status. Commercial books are pulped by the thousands -- perhaps by the tens and hundreds of thousands -- and if not pulped then are forgotten by the millions, if not by the tens and hundreds of millions. Commercial books rush headlong into the oblivion toward which small-press books creep with patient fortitude -- with a motion that often seems no motion at all, it is so slow.

The strange conundrum is that small-press books advance toward those double mystery doors of Success and Impact (even if they might be doors leading to Scant Success and Vanishingly Small Impact) so slowly that total oblivion has trouble overtaking them.

Cheers ...

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