Be Thankful for Your Obscurity


Featured image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Admittedly “Be Thankful for Your Obscurity” might be a bit confusing, not because of the writing, but because of the timing. I’m writing it Thanksgiving weekend 2016 but it will not appear on the blog until after the New Year. Another thing which may add to the confusion is the fact I’m horribly slow when it comes to reading both magazines and my fellow author’s books.

How slow? My bathroom reading finally got to the June 13, 2016 issue of Time magazine. In it there was a short article every writer should read, “Predicting the next great American novel.”

Current Great American Novels Were Failures While Author was Alive

The article is partly a review of a book titled “But if We’re Wrong?” I may actually add this book to my ever growing never got time enough “to read” list. The short article talks about how the most obscure of us toiling away in relative poverty will most likely be posthumously called the author of the great American novel. The article backs this up with several examples. I did not know that Moby Dick was originally scorned when it came out. Now that it is public domain that hasn’t stopped some big budget movies from cashing in on it.

Reminded me of the Rodriguez story. At least he lived long enough to learn of his fame in another country. As far as I know the continually unanswered question “Where did all the money go” has yet to be answered. At least he got to experience the Rock Star life, complete with limo ride, for one night on stage.

Future Famous and Just as Poor Author

Yes, as some of my writer friends have written, there are too many authors, at least for many to make a living at writing. There are definitely way too many businesses willing to hawk our wares for free in order to make advertising money from them. By the time we become famous it will be years after we are dead. Like Rodriguez, we won’t get paid either. Google , India, and the Internet Archive Project are making sure of that.

Be thankful for your obscurity. There is a good chance many other people will get rich using your story without paying you a dime. Once it has been ripped off “enough” it will become public domain so everyone can legally rip it off.

The darkest truth of the Internet is also it’s brightest truth. Once posted, nothing really goes away. The attributions may disappear and Google may scan the copyrighted material to sell advertising around it under the vapor thin argument of “public good” but the content itself will live on. That obscure story you wrote one afternoon not knowing why and not really believing in will most likely have a life beyond yours. Sadly, with camera phones everywhere, so will your most embarrassing moments.

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