I Wish I Were Born 30 Years Earlier

"Call me a pessimist, call me Ishmael, but I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea. We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (U R 2 1derful), blogging like crazy, reading for hours off their little screens, surfing around from Henry James to Jesse James to the epistle of James to pajamas to Obama to Alabama to Alanon to non-sequiturs, sequins, penguins, penal institutions, and it's all free, and you read freely, you're not committed to anything the way you are when you shell out $30 for a book, you're like a hummingbird in an endless meadow of flowers.

Back in the day, we became writers through the laying on of hands. Some teacher who we worshipped touched our shoulder, and this benediction saw us through a hundred defeats. And then an editor smiled on us and wrote us a check, and our babies got shoes. But in the New Era, writers will be self-anointed. No passing of the torch. Just sit down and write the book. And The New York Times, the great brand name of publishing, whose imprimatur you covet for your book ("brilliantly lyrical, edgy, suffused with light" — NY Times) will vanish (Poof!). And editors will vanish.

Children, I am an author who used to type a book manuscript on a manual typewriter. Yes, I did. And mailed it to a New York publisher in a big manila envelope with actual postage stamps on it. And kept a carbon copy for myself. I waited for a month or so and then got an acceptance letter in the mail. It was typed on paper. They offered to pay me a large sum of money. I read it over and over and ran up and down the rows of corn whooping. It was beautiful, the Old Era. I'm sorry you missed it." -Garrison Keillor for the Baltimore Sun

Now, I think Keillor is right and these ideas are daunting. I wish I were born 30 years earlier so I wasn't an English major looking for a job in an industry that is both revolutionizing and falling apart at the seams. Not to mention, as Keillor puts it, editors are vanishing.  Perhaps it's time to abandon my editorial dreams forever. With the industry turning itself inside out - not to mention the fact that our economy is still shitting the bed - it just doesn't seem like the job of my dreams (or anything resembling it) will ever be within grasp.


  1. I know! We graduated two years ago, and we're still looking for jobs. I'm starting to feel like it's never going to happen and I should just give up. I hate it.

  2. Yes. I'm kind of depressed about it but I feel like it's time to move on. *sigh*