- by Barbara Meyers
Change is Good
Oh, really? Then how come we hate it so much? Why do we resist it when we know that change is the only real constant in life?
Many of us find change threatening. The older we get, the less likely we are to embrace it. Or maybe that’s just me. No. It can’t be. I’ve seen women younger than me moved to tears because Starbucks changed its Frappucino recipe.
We rarely look at change as a good thing. I suppose this is because we are threatened by the possibility of the unknown. Change we understand. The outcome of that change is not so clear. What if we viewed the possibility of change much the same as we would a dirty diaper? We know change is necessary. We don’t know exactly what we’ll find once the process begins. There might be some work involved to make things better and we might not enjoy the process. But the end result of our efforts will be a vast improvement over where we started. Change is good.
The more things change the more they stay the same. From a writer’s standpoint, this is probably true. A writer’s job is to tell a story and nothing the industry or technology does will change that basic process. As long as there are readers there will be writers. Does it matter to us how our stories are being read? Isn’t our primary goal to have them read and enjoyed? If technological advances make that process cheaper and easier, what does that mean to us? That our stories are available to even more readers? That though we make less on each sale, like Taco Bell, we make it up in volume?
If there’s anyone on this planet who is less likely to embrace technology than me, I’d like to meet him. Computers confound me. The internet baffles me. Things like Twitter and StumbleUpon are beyond my ken. If I were the type to break out in hives in times of stress, I’d do so every time I have to post a blog on this site because I am certain I will screw it up. And yet I force myself to bumble my way along because I must. Gone are the days of crouching under the eaves in the attic scribbling away with my feather pen, inkwell and foolscap. Okay, I never had an attic or an inkwell and I don’t know exactly what foolscap is, but you get the picture.
If we don’t adapt to change, change will be thrust upon us. Change doesn’t care if we don’t like it, don’t understand it, don’t want to do it. It has a way of moving us, prodding us, making us grow even when we resist. Change is part of the universe we live in and it’s the part that will shove us kicking and screaming to where the universe wants us to be. We can make the process easier by not being so resistive.
Frankly, I never thought way back when I’d publish with an e-Book publisher. But the lack of change in my efforts at traditional publishing changed my attitude. Who knew e-publishing would be the best thing for me? When I signed my first e-book contract I thought maybe I was getting in on the ground floor of something big. Considering the explosion in electronic publishing in the past couple of years, it turns out I may have been right.
The delivery system for books may be changing. The price and royalty structures may not be what they once were. The market may be flooded, it may be harder to connect with fans. Chapters might be shorter, we might have to write faster to keep up with the appetites of consumers, but there’s a flip side to every dreaded change and what I see now is more freedom for writers.
There are an awful lot of writers out there who were conditioned to “write for the market.” A lot of editors at traditional publishing houses unwilling to take a chance on something new or different because…what if there wasn’t a market for it? What if we can’t make money on it?
But technology has made it so that new and different kind of story can be made available at a lower cost both in terms of up-front investment and cost to the consumer. How many established authors, burnt out by being forced to write for the market year in and year out for decades are now free to write what they really wanted to write? How many of those stories repeatedly rejected by traditional publishers and hidden under the bed or in the aforementioned attic are being given new life by a new way of publishing? Technology woke authors up. They realized they can offer their work to the reading public without middlemen. Authors regained a certain amount of power and control. While most would view that as a good thing, it can also be scary.
I’ve lived in south Florida for thirty years, and I’ve had the opportunity to see what happens after a hurricane blows through. Weather patterns don’t allow us to make choices. They don’t care if we’re ready for them or not. Much like change, we’re not going to stop them. While generally viewed as a bad thing, there’s an upside to hurricanes. Wind and rain wash everything clean. Dead branches fall. Nature’s weaknesses are swept aside. When all’s said and done what you notice is that the strong survived. Homes and business are often damaged or destroyed by hurricanes, but are just as likely to be rebuilt stronger, sturdier and even better than they were before.
I think what we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we going to be swept aside by the current onslaught of change in the industry or are we going to hunker down, embrace a force we can’t control and emerge stronger and better than we were before?