Here’s a story about how there are too many books being written that it makes reading seem impossible. Here is a story about a man who won a Pulitzer Prize this year but had to quit writing for a more lucrative job in PR. Could these two things be connected? Maybe? They feel like they’re related.
But why would they be related? Everyone can read and everyone can write but only so many people actually read and only so many people actually write. It’s like that saying Faulkner once said: “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” I guess we all have stories? Sounds like someone does! It’s like Tim Park said in tracing the history of writing and book making and book reading in the 1500s:
You might write out of a passion to get your ideas around, or out of megalomania—never a condition to be underestimated where writers are concerned—but there was still no steady money to be had producing writing of whatever kind. In economic terms, it was hardly worth insisting you were the author of a text, hence the anonymous book was rather more common than it is today.
That feels so familiar now, even with so many more people writing and so many institutions available with money to pay people who can write. I wonder if that’s true? Can writer Rob Kuznia relate to this? He just won a Pulitzer. What is he doing now? The LA Observed has those details:
We should note that Kuznia left the Breeze and journalism last year and is currently a publicist in the communications department of USC Shoah Foundation. I spoke with him this afternoon and he admitted to a twinge of regret at no longer being a journalist, but he said it was too difficult to make ends meet at the newspaper while renting in the LA area.
Huh? Then why are these medals important? Are writers important? What do you think of this, Tim Park?
The literary prize, needless to say, is part of the phenomenon, each sponsor eager to be able to claim to having crowned the new king or queen of the now global empire of literature and spared the reader the disorientation of the teeming market place. But anyone who has sat on the jury for a literary prize knows how arbitrary the final verdict often is, dependent on the meshing and conflict of the people who happen to be on the jury. And even if prizes were a reliable way of establishing that one book is better than others, there are now so many literary prizes that it is simply impossible to read all the winners, never mind those shortlisted.
Really? I guess that’s true. I never really thought about it that way. Park has hope though! He says to look to the world of writing with “cheerful skepticism.” I guess that could help someone like Kuznia, a reader and a writer. I’m not sure though! These two stories might not be related at all. They could be very different. It seems like a really funny coincidence, though. But who knows! Best of luck to both of you, Tim Park and Rob Kuznia!