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Usually Reserved for My Diary

20 January 2018

As I take the first steps in starting a publishing company, a lot of thoughts pop into mind, and I'd like to share them. To get them out and get them in order.


I'm going through the questions to ask yourself I found in this article, which helps greatly with envisioning, and, maybe more importantly, with understanding what it means, where value in this endeavor is placed, and what it is that I personally want to say - and, maybe more importantly, what I don't. Who I don't want to become. What, generally, I'm striving to find or do (note 'striving'). This exercise helps with seeing the pitfalls and the myriad ways one can get carried away by trying to grow a thing too quickly for the sake of getting rich quick, a very not tempting but captivating mindset for my peer group of late twenty-somethings/early thirty-somethings who are now reaching a point of less activity and more settlement, or who, in other words, have come of age and taken on some sort of identity in our physically manifested world (save your philosophical debates). At least for the first time; I don't want to believe we are that limited by our age....


First off, I see now that this has been a long time coming. It is like the turnkey with which many little pieces scattered about in my yard fall into place. Most of the pieces necessary are already there - I have several books finished and thus a catalog; together they have a progression and style, so it isn't hard to see what the publisher is about (even if it is hard to say); without realizing it, I have amassed seven years' experience in publishing, editing, and book design. I even touched social media, once (the last thing I said I'd do, I now have not one but three instagram accounts). I'm in a community of writers and other creatives who, together, are eclectic and non-obnoxiously loud. And I have a website that isn't an all-that-bad platform to start with and build on. It's like having the interior of a house: the couches, the style, the beds, plumbing, kitchen appliances, and somewhat of a frame. I have all the stuff that makes it a home, most of which are intangibles like history, intentions, values, and style, or the symbolic, barely tangible whole of a crest. All that remains is to patch up the walls, make it look like a house, and give it an address.


What's key is that I didn't start out intending to build a house. I had no vision! Just an urge pushing into the dark! I started out just needing to open my mouth. Now, after years, I know people whose work I would want to publish. People whom I want to see published. There are people I would reach out to, at first, before opening the doors for submissions. If someone wrote a story on sailing I loved, or wrote a beautiful magical realism piece, I would, out of that little starting point, think to create an anthology on sailing, or magical realism, and then query for more and build it up that way. What I wouldn't do is look at someone's very successful sailing or magical realism anthology and think to jump on that bandwagon to capitalize on a new trend, and query for sailing and magical realism stories without any personal stake in it (a recent instance of querying for stories on sexual assault, in poor taste especially to the people who have come forth about such instances, comes to mind.)


To play devil's advocate now, I could see how it would be fun to try and put together an anothology on something I've never touched or thought to touch before. I guess what I'm saying is that the spirit has to be there, and if the only intention is to exploit for more clicks or likes or sales, without any joy or friendship or community in it whatsoever, I think it'll come across in the end result you put out. So, it wouldn't even really work. Law of the universe....



And what's why - what I'm really trying to say as I marvel at this unfolding, so far real only to me, but very real - is that it's easier and infinitely more rewarding to build a home before you build a house. How on earth could you build the right house for you if you don't know who you are and how you need and want to live? What if you discover that, as you sit out in the fields at night, lost in a morass of a little bit here and a little bit there, you're an astronomer always looking up? Then when the rest of the world knows and recognizes you the astronomer, you have the hill, you have the observatory, and you adjoin it to a place to sleep, a place to cook, a place to have people over. There's the astronomer's home. But if you build a house and then try to fill it, how are you going to know what specifications to build it by? The real work is being done in the dark and for such a long time before the first pole ever goes up! It's a slower approach, a more difficult one, to not rush through....


As I think about this more, this sensation of building my own establishment becomes more and more prevalent and emerges as sort of a solution to the problem I've been trying to solve. That problem being of a dwelling. Do I buy a house? A van? A boat? Where do I make my home? In some way this solves the very root of this question, and not with an answer that wa obvious. At least not to me.