I know how the candlemaker feels. He chooses the wick, a fine narrow braid, the finest cotton. The was is the finest he can find, make or gather. He colors it with his own blood if need be and heats it with the flame passed down for generations like the embers of a Roman house. He dips the wick, lets it cool, dips again, and again and again, putting his patience to the test, his art to the project. Eventually he has a taper, a unique meaningful and useful thing meant to illuminate if not the world, then a little place. But few use candles anymore.
I’m a writer. I write fiction. I write novels. I write things that cannot be consumed in a single bathroom sitting on a three inch iPod screen. I work in a dying medium. I make candles when there’re halogen bulbs, books when there are movies, paragraphs when there are tweets.
We still need stories like we still need light, but much has changed. Soft subtle flickering, hours of mood and glow are no longer in fashion. I see my kids drawn into the flashes and strobes of internet data dumps, Facebook quotes, Reddit headlines. They read only when required to do so by ancient teachers trained in obsolete technologies. If I’m to get them to proof a page for me, I have to catch them misbehaving and slap it on them in punishment; not the ideal situation for feedback.
Novels have become a luxury item, like candles at dinner or votives around a bubble bath. I can cater to these people, because they are my people. Perhaps one day someone will take my stories and adapt them for the screen, but until that, I will be content if my little light shines into someone.
And the art continues.