Monday, February 14, 2011

Margaret Atwood and Cheese Sandwiches

Margaret standing on a chair for the Book2Camp conclusion
So yesterday I participated in the pre-TOC Book2Camp event hosted by O'Reilly and OpenSky. It was a great experience and I'm really thankful to our hosts for their support. The highlight of the event for me, and many others in attendance was the participation of Margaret Atwood.

This became very real for me, when halfway through my session she walked into the room. It was a real honor to have her attend my session, and she really made her presence felt almost immediately. Even though she missed my introduction she quickly came up to speed and begin peppering me with very piercing questions.

Her questions were very good and I think serve as a wonderful reminder for everyone involved in the publishing industry. She reminded me that the struggle to get paid for your artistic endeavours was not a new one. She recounted that through out history there were some very well known strategies:
  • Find a benefactor
  • Obtain a grant
  • Marry money
  • Inherit money.
She added, beyond that, it was really the creative's responsibility to find a way to pay for your "cheese sandwiches." She went on to explain that what was most important was being a good writer. By that, she emphasized as an author, you needed to create a world that would capture a readers imagination and provide an engaging experience. She put it this way: "You have to make the reader get past page five." She felt that if an author could do that, then they would be on their way towards getting themself some cheese sandwiches.

I have to confess, it was invaluable advice and I appreciate her spirited participation. With a long and successful writing career, anyone would be ill-advised to ignore her perspective. We all build the future on the backs of those who've went before us. It's interesting to me that even though she had never heard of transmedia, she succinctly summarized the challenge for a transmedia franchise, successfully creating a world which is compelling enough to attract attention.


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