Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prosperity v. Posterity

So I've said that wessex collective ( ) is more interested in posterity than prosperity and that is why we'll discount books substantially and donate books to causes we support to get the books in the hands of serious readers who might otherwise miss them. We know our audience is a small one, people who actually WANT to be challenged (I once had a mss. rejected because it was too "challenging" and a story criticised because it "used characters to make a point" imagine that!) . . . but we want to get the work we considered important enough to devote our time and energy to creating, publishing and promoting out to readers who will appreciate it because we understand how important the great books we read were to us. So, all that by way of introducing some remarks about POSTERITY I recently rec'd in an email from my friend and favorite writer, Ita Willen.  She said:
"listen our deafening silence problems are not new. I've been reading a lot of biographies. CHOPIN had a hard time getting anyone to listen, as a performer he seemed weak with his barely audible music, selling sheet music was hard too, waltzes were in vogue, he survived by giving piano lessons. GEORGE SAND her soap opera novels found favor but she ruined Chopin's life and destroyed her kids lives too. LORD BYRON independently wealthy, got attention for his work through his scandalous behavior, a total degenerate. SHELLY Independently wealthy, his work was not recognized until after his death. . .  Abandoned a young pregnant wife and two small children to run off with Mary. The wife committed suicide by drowning. RIMBAUD'S entire fame rest on 500 copies self published, couldn't afford to pay the printer and the stash wasn't even found til 50 years later, long after he died. And we all know about poor VAN GOGH who couldn't sell a painting to save his life.  So the loud silence doesn't bother me a bit. I once saw a cartoon in The New Yorker: two men at a cocktail party. Says one: "Why should I do anything for posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?" That is when I completely gave up trying to create anything for the unborn. And yet it occurs to me now that posterity HAS done something for me. It's given me Chopin, Sand, Byron, Shelley and Van Gogh."

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