Today on the blog we have fellow Canadian Gordon Long, who wrote a story about just how cold it gets in some parts of Canada at Christmas. I don't live in those parts, but for my writer friends in balmy Texas who like to joke that I live in the Klondike, it can get chilly sometimes. Just as writing is becoming more democratic as a result of the digital revolution (but still has room for improvement), where you need to live as a writer is also changing (and needs to change more).
The Centres of Publishing
I remember when I first started writing, e-books and digital publishing were just beginning to take off, and the industry was still very much about physical books and traditional publishers. My almost-Klondike location seemed like it was potentially a liability. I had heard from traditionally published writer friends in the know that if you didn't live in New York or Toronto, it was harder to get an agent or get published. I was also told that there was little point in getting an agent who wasn't based in New York because if they were not in New York, they simply did not have the access to or connections with the big publishers. But I was also told that New York agents didn't take writers from the Klondike. So I was in a catch 22 (or 23, or maybe even 27). In a world where even the slightest glitch in your resume or submission could result in rejection, I didn't know whether to query New York agents, hoping they would overlook my address, or agents in other parts of the country, hoping the publishers would overlook theirs. Even after you were published, a New York or Toronto address seemed important. A friend of mine, who is a very successful writer, indicated that she was very disadvantaged by not living in Toronto and being part of the writing scene there.
It was not only the cache of having a New York address, but also the networking and learning opportunities associated with living in a publishing hub. After all, that was the reason the publishing houses were originally clustered in New York, as it allowed them to network and draw on common talent pool. If I lived in New York or Toronto, I could attend major writing events and readings with big names. Not only would I have been able to learn from watching other more accomplished writers, but I might even have the chance to meet them, and meet editors and agents. (It seems almost hilarious now that I thought knowing big name writers could somehow help get me published). I thought that I might have to move for a time. Maybe not to New York or Toronto, but at least to Vancouver. I knew it wasn't strictly a necessity, but it seemed like it might be that edge one needed to rise out of the slush pile.
But then the digital revolution and indie publishing came along and changed that to some extent. It doesn't seem to matter as much where I live. I do have to deal with the fact that it costs twice as much for me to get books shipped to me and for me to send books to readers, but that is minor. Moving forward into 2016, I hope these boundaries of geography continue to be broken down and it won't matter at all where writers live. Cause you know, I kind of like the Klondike, and now you can read about Gordon Long's experiences living in the Great White North.
A Cold Canadian Christmas
My transportation for the Christmas of 1967 was Dad’s 1958 Mercury pickup. It was one of the first “full box” pickups, instead of the old “step sides,” and I thought it was pretty classy. Think of the picture above with a front bumper and a two-tone paint job: white above, teal below. I was home from university, and Dad was out of the bush because it was too cold to work, so I was pretty well free to drive it around. Loggers can’t work below about -30 because metal gets so brittle that equipment breaks. It’s rather hard on people, too.
Yes, the Christmas of 1967 was rather cold. I came home from visiting friends on Boxing Day, and the weather report said it was going to be -60F that night (That’s -51 for you Celsius types). I plugged in the block heater of the pickup and waited for that reassuring gurgle that told me it was working.
Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, sailboat racing and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.
Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he isn’t publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table. He has published two books this Christmas:
“Mountains of Mischief” Book 3 in the World of Change series,
“Storm over Savournon” a novel of the French Revolution