Docket Nr. 276,643
THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
Plaintiff’s complaint is as follows:
I am a busy person. Very busy. In the morning I take two showers, brush two sets of teeth, I dress twice, I go through two breakfasts, make two beds, go to the toilet twice, take two sets of medications. Throughout the day, this dual action continues (e.g. two lunches, two dinners, two evening ablutions, etc.), augmented by activities which are, shall we say, singular - things like house cleaning, food shopping, paying the bills and, lest we forget, writing my book (keeping in mind that the words I initially put down then insistent on crying out to be re-written, not just once but many, many times over).
In short, I lead two lives. No, I’m not schizophrenic nor has my personality split, at least not that I’m aware. Unless I am in the Matrix, plugged into a particularly tiresome version of reality, I lead a double life made up of my existence and my mother’s, both taking place under the same roof. She, afflicted with full-blown dementia, unable to do anything on her own and speech impaired as a result of a stroke, is entirely dependent on me. For Everything. There are only three things I don’t do for her and that’s only because I can’t - I don’t sleep for her, I don’t eat for her and I can’t perform her bathroom functions for her. Though I lead the horse to water, I can’t drink in it’s place. My mother is 93 years old, soon (in two months) to be 94. The constant care she requires means that I cannot leave her alone for more than half an hour. She is housebound and consequently so am I.
Do you get the picture? For all intents and purposes (a ‘wretched redundancy’ as Mr. Fiske would call it - see my previous post) I am a prisoner, in a high security prison, not because the windows are barred and the doors locked, but because I can’t leave, tethered as I am by an invisible umbilical cord to the old lady. The life-sustaining nourishment which many moons ago flowed from her to me, now travels in the other direction. Luckily (for her), I possess all the qualities which make me well suited to the task of sole caregiver and, coincidentally, writer - I’m an introvert and a loner. I’m not saying that all writers are socially challenged but I dare say, most do exhibit such tendencies. Writing is a lonely profession. If you are a social butterfly who cannot bear to be alone for any measurable length of time, while, at the same time, you harbor a burning desire to be a writer, chances are very good that you are, most likely, in a word….screwed. Having said that, the very same character traits which equip us to be writers, also (often) make us allergic to concepts such as networking, Facebooking and Twittering.
It may very well be that, in my case, age has something to do with it. I am fast approaching the end of yet another decade (vanity does not permit me to elaborate further but if you consider my mother’s age plus the fact that she was not one of those women who conceived unusually late - well, you do the math!). I’ve had enough time on this planet to be able to say to a great many things ‘been there, done that’. Reaching a stage in life where privacy has become a valued commodity, I keep myself to myself. That is not to say I don’t have friends; I do but having, up until three years ago, lived abroad for twenty years, all the people I know are thousands of miles away. We communicate on a regular basis but our preferred means of contact is Skype or e-mail, ensuring that what we say stays between us (and Big Brother).
What does all this have to do with my complaint against the tyrannous demands of the publishing industry? I’ll tell you. I am unable to attend any seminars, conferences or writing classes of any kind, as the industry ‘suggests’ strongly that I do. With free time being a very scarce commodity, I cannot spend hours self-promoting myself on the Internet, building the damned ‘platform’ I am told I should. Unless I stay up all night, being active in forums, reading and commenting on other people’s posts, any voluminous (read: time consuming) networking is impossible. Just to have a few free hours to write, I get up at five o’clock in the morning! Once my mother’s day starts, mine is essentially over. Oh, and did I mention that I have no family to help me out and that, for a time, my mother was in an elderly care center (which took her off my hands for a few blessed hours every day) but was promptly kicked out because she was deemed too decrepit for their liking?
Now I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, how am I supposed to turn myself into the kind of persona the publishing industry requires me to be? How am I going to make mine a household name ever before a single one of my works is published? In what universe? Please, if anyone out there has any ideas, I would be thrilled to hear them! I myself got none!
Maybe I can rent someone else’s extensive network and then claim it as my own? I’m willing to pay though unemployed as I have to be, any cash remuneration will tend to be on the low side…..