My computer has a nasty virus. So nasty, in fact, that I haven’t been able to write anything in days. Coincidentally, I was gifted by Mr. 761 with an iPad. I have been enjoying the virus-free nature of both and as a consequence I have fallen behind on filling Box 761. The iPad deserves (and will get, eventually) its own post. I love it, almost as much as I love the guy who gave it to me.
I am getting distracted though.
After the past few posts about the CBC Canada Reads silliness, I realized I was spent. Maybe I’m a little glad that my computer is infected (maybe that’s what infected it?) – it made me take a breath and step back a little to think.
I keep coming back to that “get cracking” comment of 14 October. I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I’ve been reading the CBC Canada Reads website, but only sporadically since. I realized I was reading it and looking for fodder, for something to snark about…. not healthy, and certainly not helpful in any way to any one.
Have you ever been to a demolition derby? I went, once, and had a terrific time. For me, it was 85% tongue-in-cheek post-modern snotty fascination, and 10% real enjoyment — watching the silly violence, the lights and smoke. The other 5% withheld judgment of any kind — I guess I was trying to process the spectacle, and suffered from a sort of sensory overload. That’s how I feel about this Canada Reads spectacle. The crowd is getting really large, there’s stuff going on in all corners of the arena, and I can’t quite seem to catch a clear view — too much smoke. I wonder if it’s going to be worth the time and energy. I’m kind of digging it, but it’s entirely mediated by the noise around it.
Frankly, I’m not sure I’m going to bother waiting this out to the end.
One of the peripheral benefits of this has been, for me, that I’ve gathered a renewed respect for those who choose to make a life as authors. I’ve wondered if I had what it took — to sit and create; to craft my thoughts and life into a work that spoke to others. Then you have to contend with getting published, try to figure out how to deal with agents or marketing managers and publicists (or lack thereof)… it’s all business in a way that seems counter productive, as far as art goes. I see the need for it, but wonder too at how this business has formed itself this way.
Since when does the artist have to get cracking at anything but creating? Did Ernest Buckler have to figure out how to get his publisher to adequately market his book? Did Dorothy Parker have to worry about getting enough friends to send Tweets on behalf of her book? Can you imagine some flippant 20-something who thinks a book review over 140 characters is “too hard” telling Margaret Lawrence to get cracking?
I guess that there are a few things that are bothering me. This is a contest, after all, and I suppose I shouldn’t be bothered with people competing, but I am. It doesn’t feel like a fair fight, or a clean one. At this point, I’m not even sure who the contestants are. Some of this might be a generational thing — I’m old enough to feel like something about this whole thing is, well, unseemly. That the CBC and its youngsters aren’t affording authors and their works enough respect. That it’s their job to help raise up art, rather than to build the demolition derby arena and then make them fight to get in it.
I can’t say that I won’t be keeping tabs on who “wins” and listening to the program. I will, however, be listening with 85% tongue-in-cheek post-modern snotty fascination. I’m not sure what the remaining 15% will be.