If I Shake You Hard Enough, Will You Do Something?

July 17, 2009 at 12:19 am (Uncategorized)

Just so you know, rekeying is a slog. I am finding it remarkably slow going – I can barely believe how long it’s taking me. I’ve only just passed the halfway mark of the last draft, but since I’ve dumped a lot of the beginning for the next draft, that means I’m nowhere near halfway in the actual rekeying itself. Does that make sense? It’s a really big job rekeying all those words… I accumulated those 80,000 words in fairly good time in the very first instance, but retyping them now is  a bitch.  Still, I wish I’d known about this little exercise while I was preparing to submit my thesis – now there’s a document that really could have used a large, sharp scythe, although the thought of rekeying that ugly monster is enough, even now, to make me want to flee the country screaming.

In the meantime, I’m wondering about the other thing that makes me want to flee the country screaming, and that’s the Productivity Commission’s recommendations (see Australians for Australian Books for a clear picture of the anticipated consequences from the Australian publishing industry’s point of view, and for a less emotional, more cogent response to the news than my own post on the subject, see author James Bradley’s analysis). I am trying to recover my native optimism about it all. I just have to believe that good writing will find a way to reach its readers, and I am not going to despair of that being the case for the future of Australian publishing. No. Too many people work too hard and believe in it too much and do it for too little money and too much love already for it all to go to the dogs. They deserve my faith and that of other readers and writers. So now I’m just wondering how to help them. I guess my first agenda item will be writing to the appropriate parliamentarian. My mother-in-law suggests Senator Robert McClelland, Attorney General, as the recipient of such a Missive of Malcontent, and I think I might spread the fury to a few more quarters just to make sure I don’t miss squirting the right weeds with something appropriately noxious.

Charlotte from How to Shuck an Oyster has just reminded me of another issue on which our government – the same government whose election I greeted with such JUBILATION, mistakenly, naively believing it to be deliverance from the politics of John Howard, which, to my dismay, I now find very much alive and well in the so-called alternative (FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRK) – is just thoroughly out of order, and that’s their plans to censor the internet on behalf of the supposedly free citizens of this country (for more information on how to register your disgust with government, click here). I’m not kidding, and unfortunately, neither are they. Um. Gee. You arrogant, Draconian maniacs.

Nothing gives them the right to make these decisions about limiting our access to information, but what I’d like to know is, HOW did we get to a point where they are thus empowered, and feel more than comfortably justified in exercising that power to these ends? I guess the answer is the malaise that strikes this country time and time again. And that’s apathy, deadlier than anything currently doing the rounds of Australian communities. Apathy kills. And we are in the midst of an apathy epidemic.

We all need to wake the fuck up.

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5 Comments

  1. Charlotte said,

    Di, I am soo with you. But having talked and protested about this for so long now, I am so deeply depressed about the PC report that I am about to bury my head in the sand – especially about the deep vein of hostility towards artists that’s been revealed by this debate (I blogged on this today at howtoshuckanoyster).

    But in my last gasp of opposition, I present to you a few snippets from the Productivity Commission report itself – not opinion, not spin, not campaigning, just facts the PC includes in its report. The report is online for anyone to see.

    “Across the publishing industry as a whole, the additional competition from overseas
    editions of books that would ensue from the removal of the PIRs could see some
    contraction in the overall output of the publishing industry”

    ***

    “Moreover, some new or undiscovered authors could find it more difficult to gain
    attention in an open market, particularly if there were a contraction in Australian
    publishing. As Andy Griffiths noted:
    A situation in which restrictions were lifted would correspondingly make it even harder
    for new local authors to begin the crucial audience-building process given the lower
    returns that local publishing houses could expect to make given the relative cheapness of titles from established authors such as myself and/or if their fledgling author was fortunate … enough to be signed by an overseas publisher and had to compete against themselves. ”

    ***
    “the Commission considers that while independent booksellers potentially could lose some of their market share, their ability to attract continued patronage in an open market would depend, as it does now, on providing a differentiated offering that consumers value sufficiently.”

    ***

    “The argument that Australia should not subject its authors and publishers to the
    competitive pressures of freer trade while other countries maintain restrictions has
    some superficial appeal. Indeed, the argument has been raised by many other
    industries facing the prospect of reductions in tariffs and other forms of border
    protection.”

    ***
    Perhaps one of the creepiest of all the PC’s views is the following, in which it seems to be saying that because authors might enjoy writing (and who the fuck ever enjoys writing??), it’s only fair this ‘psychic income’ should be considered part of their monetary income:

    “In addition to the royalties (and related income) that authors receive from book
    sales, the non-pecuniary rewards that many derive from writing — such as the
    opportunity to influence the views of others, and the ‘joy of self-expression’
    (Abbing 2002) — are widely acknowledged to be significant.”

    ANyhoo, as Wendy Orr tweeted the other day, the PC has proved itself wrong on one front – our opportunity to influence the views of others is a big fat joke.

    Yours in black …..

  2. doctordi said,

    OH. MY. GOD. I am laughing completely HYSTERICALLY at that final pearler. Wow. That is revealing in the most unflattering way of how they will justify this to themselves. As for those quotes from the report itself: oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. And after all that, they recommend abandoning territorial copyright? Mmm. I’m confused… even in their own words, that sounds like a very BAD idea…

    And as someone who is working toward one day becoming a new and COMPLETELY UNDISCOVERED (hello? Hello?) author, Andy Griffiths’ wise words make me feel like crying about the new hopelessness of the grim road ahead.

  3. Lilian Nattel said,

    My sympathies. We have a conserv wingnut for PM here and I just hope he gets out and someone sane comes in soon.

  4. Jenny said,

    Fabulous, eloquent posts Di – this and the last. You put the case for Australian authors so powerfully. Many others have done the same and it is incomprehensible to me that the government continues on this path. Rudd has been such a let down on so many fronts. Just take a look at Peter Garrett. Instead of an environment minister we have two ministers for mining and industry. But we must retain our optimism at all costs, because our voices protect hope from despair.
    Many thanks for your inspiration Di. xo

  5. doctordi said,

    Lilian, what I want to know is how these people end up running countries. How do we attract a better calibre of candidate to the job? It’s slim pickings around here.

    Jenny, Rudd has been such a disappointment. I actually thought this would be something he’d be dead against, so I am really surprised, really deflated that the government is pursuing it. I wonder if we’re not directing our protest to the wrong people. Oh god, Garrett is just the biggest shocker of all. Boy. Talk about zero credibility.

    But yes, we must not ever, ever despair.

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