Everything Live Is Dead Again: Publishing, Livejournal, and Insomnia

I am finally home from the tour, extended convention appearances, and bookbooking that has made up my last four months or so. Everyone else is at ComicCon, but I am home.

And of course, last night, my first real night back in the house? I couldn’t sleep.

Partly because it was 85 degrees outside at 2 am (our day/night temps for the last few days have not been functionally different from Albuquerque’s) and the fact that in Maine we get this sticky, awful weather for like two or three weeks a year is not enough to justify air conditioning. And our new bedroom window opens out Romeo-style, so we haven’t quite figured out how to get a window unit in there. Thus, downstairs has our old window unit and is fine, upstairs is horrible.

And I keep thinking I only have a few days at home to do x, y, and z, to Write All the Things for All the People, and then I have to leave again. I don’t, but my body and soul think I do. Ending a tour is like running as fast as you can and then hitting a brick wall. Sure, you stop, but you’re a puddle of girl now.

But that’s not all! Right before going to bed someone linked me to this article about how publishing is falling apart and BN is cutting back after the Borders disaster and unless one is a superstar one’s ability to make a living is about to be severely questionable. And I saw it and knew I shouldn’t have read it, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep for the oh god, what if I can’t do this anymore panic-lemurs whipping their tails back and forth, my tour-sodden brain trying to come up with a plan, (in the odd position of being optioned to the hilt with all her publishers while the sale-side of the industry is having a wonderful time coping with the collapse of a company that has helped shiv independents in the alley for the last 20 years), trying to convince itself that all the stories it keeps cooking up will get told and people will listen. And oh, my website needs updating and oh, my back catalogue isn’t on Kindle yet, and oh, the house isn’t unpacked yet, and HELLO 5 AM.

So I wake up late and sticky and worn out from worrying.

I guess I’m sick of being told that things I love and use and need to keep working are dying. The whole publishing industry, yes, but also things like Livejournal, which even I can’t deny is exploring assisted-living options these days. I can’t quite embrace the Facebook world with the enthusiasm I gave to the internet circa 2001. Though I can love Twitter, I see its drawbacks sharply (its collective memory is basically nil, and searching my own Tweets for information is a futile exercise–it doesn’t create a document, it creates ephemerality) and it has enough longevity that it’s hardly the most exciting thing on the net anymore. One day, it will go too.

And all of this means I am officially an old person who wants the net to look like it did when I was 19. I cannot even explain my instinctive hostility to Google+ except in Get Off My Lawn terms, and laziness–I do not want to set up a whole new social network when for all its faults at least Facebook let me port in my contacts from other networks without having to add them one by one and organize them into groups and GOD I do not have the time! But it’s "cool" (sort of, I mean, I remember Wave and how it was going to Change Everything) and all the writers are having Hangout dates and I’m gonna chew my pipe and complain. (Also I don’t know about writing, like, in front of people? While they watch? Maybe with people I really liked…

And I think back to when the distribution network collapsed in the nineties and no none was selling books in drugstores anymore and indies first started shutting down and I think that that must have seemed like the end of the world–and it was for many writers, who either could not adapt or were so buoyed by the previous system that without it they could not thrive or were just fucking unlucky. Yet as a whole publishing survived and changed. I believe it will survive. I hope I can adapt. I hope I am not to old/calcified/paralyzed by worry to change with it. But fuck, I’m still on Livejournal, so what does that say about my adaptability? I can do the self-publishing thing, I’ve quite obviously done it before when the shit hit the New York fan. But I also feel like that is not quite the next step that we’re all wondering about. I don’t know what that step is, but I don’t think piling onto the Kindle is a stable situation, and entrusting the entirety of literature to Amazon seems like a hideous plan to me.

That whole talk about the medieval nature of our world was not a joke–we have so little individual power over what happens here, and the giant corporation that croons sweetly about how well it will take care of us is just a king who wants England and France too, and more and more forever. Give me your books, all of them, and tell your friends that I am a friend to the unpublished, an indie soul standing up to wicked witches in New York City, doing what I do only for your own good, not my own enrichment, and Apple is LIKE a choice, quitting writing and working in a bookstore is LIKE freedom–oh wait! you can’t work in a bookstore anymore! We killed them all! So, you know, enjoy your degree, word serf. 

What use is a mere singer of songs and teller of tales in the face of such hungry power?

Dear Livejournal. Everything is scary. Here are some song lyrics I like and a quiz telling you what kind of fairy I am.

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