Keeping with the universal thought that to be a good writer you have to be a reader, I am currently pushing my way through George Orwell’s 1984. The thought occurred to me that at times I feel like Winston Smith, hunched over, scribbling in a diary, just out of the view of the Telescreens, wondering beyond thought if my words will ever be seen by others, and, unlike Winston, hoping they will.
It also occurs to me that if George Orwell had written 1984, in 2004, and called it 2034, he would’ve been treated to rejection letters from some of the greatest literary agents of the day, possibly returned with tiny tidbits of discouragement like… “Too depressing – I can’t sell this.” or… “The writing was okay, but Political Fiction doesn’t sell.” or “It’s too anti-semetic to ever clear through the Hollywood crowd.” or… “Have you ever thought about writing serious fiction?”
Don’t get me wrong, for post World War England, I’m sure this was a gripping piece of fiction, and a grim vision of what London could have become under the Third Reiche, but in the context of 2010, it would hardly be applicable in it’s current form. George would have to do a complete rewrite to incorporate the Internet age and how Minitru would control the World Wide Web. Residents of the twenty-first century would have the attention-span of a flea, so the Two Minute Hate could only be about fifteen seconds, tops. Orwell painted a Totalitarian society where every home has a screen capable of two-way communication, but that’s pretty standard fare in current day, with chat rooms and webcams.
No, I’m just afraid George Orwell would be lined up with an increasing number of authors to self-publish his vision. Come to think of it, I bet there are hundreds of volumes of classic literature that would never see a publishers press in today’s market.
War and Peace – Too long
The Canterbury Tales – Too lyrical
House of Seven Gables – Too wordy
Moby Dick – Too fishy (Never get it past PETA)
Red Badge of Courage – Too Southern
Don Quixote – Too stereotypical
Gulliver’s Travels – Too tall
Cyrano de Bergerac – Too ugly
Dracula – Too dark
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Too many too’s to mention.
I think my next read will be a little more contemporary. Harry Potter, which almost didn’t get published either.
“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
~ Henry Miller