I know I haven't posted here in awhile, which is why I want to point anyone who does come across this page to my new project: Stranger Than Truth.

It's a fiction blog where several other writers will be posting our work, including our efforts at NaNoWriMo. The Stranger Than Truth team includes me, Ian Worte, Michael Bulko, Cory McCallum, Elizabeth Kurz, Jon Renaut, Tyler Brown and probably more as time goes on. Check it out!
 
 
In my last post, I included a nineteenth century editorial about newspaper patronage that I found in the Google News Archives. This inspired me to go looking for other tidbits of 100-year-old wisdom, and to my delight I found them in abundance.

Since several newspapers today are claiming people need to pay for the news, I started by looking for pieces that discuss the economics of newspaper publishing. Newspapers would love to let readers with no knowledge of the business think their pocket change supports the industry, so they will feel guilty about getting the news free online. But as an 1846 essay on journalism and the London press reminds us, this has never been the case:
Courtesy of Cornell University Library, Making of America Digital Collection.
An 1867 article in The Galaxy entitled Journalism as a Profession touches on the subject as well:
Courtesy of Cornell University Library, Making of America Digital Collection.
The Galaxy article contains another interesting portion that addresses a different point of contention in modern news. Many newspapers claim that bloggers are ‘parasites’ who unfairly profit from their hard work. Once again, those with real knowledge of the industry know that expanding on the work of others is already an indispensable part of the journalistic process, and that these accusations positively reek of hypocrisy. The Galaxy reminds us that things were no different 142 years ago:
Courtesy of Cornell University Library, Making of America Digital Collection.
For anyone involved in journalism the Galaxy article is well worth reading in its entirety, if only because it’s so amusing. As an example I include this next excerpt, not because it is particularly relevant but because anyone who does not at least smile while reading it can hardly call themselves a journalist:
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In thinking about the modern journalism business, I have always reached the conclusion that we are approaching an advertising revolution that will ultimately benefit both the advertisers and the public, by reducing the amount of wasted communication and directing people to the products and services they actually want and need, while providing valuable content in the process. I believe that journalists, advertisers and creative agencies should all be focused on the same goal right now: improving the quality and relevancy of advertising, while maintaining the editorial standards that lend newspapers their credibility in the first place. To that end I leave you with this quote from The Best in Journalism, a speech delivered by the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle to the Sphinx club in 1899:
Of course, I did find this on the very same page:
 
 
BigThink.com has a video of John Irving talking about the future of the book and today's prospects for new authors. They gave it the title Advice to Aspiring Novelists: Don't Shoot Yourself, which is funny because he says no such thing:
He speculates that he might be tempted to shoot himself if he were in the shoes of an aspiring author, he talks about how much easier things were (and are) for him, and then he just kind of trails off. There's no "advice" whatsoever – if anything, it sounds like he's encouraging young writers to shoot themselves.

Irving's skill as a novelist aside, I think he's painting an overly bleak picture here. If I'm being honest, he comes across as a confused old man who hasn't bothered to follow the changes in an industry where his success is already assured – and that's fine, but he shouldn't make it his business to discourage the next generation. Notice that he doesn't even explain why he thinks things are tougher now: he just knows that they aren't exactly the same as they used to be, and that scares him.

Admittedly this clip is only part of a longer interview with Irving, and I haven't watched the whole thing. Perhaps I should, but based on this it doesn't seem like he has much to say.

Rest assured, young authors, there are plenty of opportunities out there. The publishing industry may be in turmoil, but people still love stories, and they always will.
 
 
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Synesthesia is a neurological condition that causes people's senses to behave in unusual ways. If you've heard of it, you've probably heard wrong – but it is a fascinating phenomenon that is rarely detrimental and often somewhat enjoyable to those who experience it.

According to Wikipedia, synesthesia is commonly misrepresented in literature. I'm not surprised by that, as most high-profile conditions (neurological, mental and physical) get a clumsy handling in the world of fiction, and genuine portrayals are few and far between.

I'm working on the novel I started during NaNoWriMo (no, I didn't get to 50,000 words  not even close) and the plot that has been rolling off the top of my head includes a lot to do with synesthesia – both the real synesthesia, and a fictional related condition. The thing is, while I don't want the portrayal of real synesthesia to be seen as totally ignorant, I also want it to be somewhat whimsical and hyperbolic. This is mainly because I like a dash of whimsy in just about everything, but also because the character in question is highly intelligent and imaginative and exhibits a rarer, more curious form of synesthesia: ordinal linguistic personification.

Of course, NaNoWriMo is all about writing without editing as you go, and even though it's over I intend to continue in that spirit, so I'll address these concerns later. Hopefully I won't write myself into a hackish hole.