That is the beginning of a line in the movie Victor Frankenstein. The rest goes, “They will only remember the monster.”
I imagine a lot of long dead writers can relate. Maybe not, Shakespeare or Samuel Clemens, but others, like Miguel De Cervantes or Alexandre Dumas are little known by the general public compared to their work (Don Quixote & The Count of Monte Cristo, respectively).
This line got me thinking. Yes, yes…smoke and all that.
How many of the current writers who work tirelessly to create fantastic stories will be remembered?
Back when books were printed on-demand (how things have come full circle), publishers controlled whose stories made it into print. The number of books published were limited and quality was of the utmost importance. Especially considering the people buying the books were wealthy and didn’t want garbage.
Today, everyone thinks they’re a writer. With the advent of self-published ebooks and print-on-demand technology, it is easy for anyone to put out a book. Heck, I created my first ebook almost ten years ago when I first put together Pendragon Academy’s 100 Best Free Online Learning Links. At the time, Lulu was the go to place to publish. The book has since been updated and turned into a Kindle book.
There are millions of books published today that wouldn’t have otherwise seen the light of day. It’s both good and bad.
Good because good authors who wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting published previously can get their fantastic stories into reader’s hands.
Bad because there is little to no quality control in the self-publishing realm. Anyone with access to a computer can put out a book regardless of how truly hideous it is. And unfortunately, the good writers get buried amongst the piles of garbage, fairly invisible.
Is it any wonder that the books that sell well and the authors who are remembered beyond their lifetime are still mainly published by the big publishing houses. (Or are porn. Even really bad porn sells well. Sigh.)
How many of their monsters will be remembered better than the author themselves?
A few years ago, there was a monster that those of us who prize good writing wish would have remained unknown. I asked a few people who I know read 50 Shades of Grey if they recalled who the author was. They did not. They remembered the monster E.L. James created, but not not her. They didn’t really care who the author was. They were more interested in the train wreck of a book. (Have you seen the pictures of the piles and piles of discarded copies?)
There are a number of books out there like that. They made sensationalist headlines for a short while and then were mostly forgotten. The Twilight series is another of those monsters that was huge for a short time and has since become the butt of so many jokes. The DaVinci Code, the same way.
All of those monsters will be remembered long after the authors are dead, but it won’t be for being great literature.
Will anything I write be even noticed, let alone remembered?
I would like to think that all of the hard work that I am now doing in both the areas of writing and art will be remembered by future generations. Even if it’s only a genealogist looking for nutcases in the family.
However, I won’t hold my breath. Instead, I am setting my bar low. I want one person…just one…okay maybe a few more than one…to have said they were entertained by my writing during my lifetime.