Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Next Big Thing

by Anne Barnill

Everybody wants it.  You know what I mean--the ‘big’ book, the one that sells like glasses of lemonade in the desert at high noon, the one that buds, then blossoms into a mega-book. A phenomenon.  Something like the Harry Potter books or Fifty Shades of Gray.  I’ll admit it; I’d love to come up with the next big thing.  My agent would love it even more and my publisher, well, I’m sure they’d be over the moon should it happen.
Chances are, though, it won’t.  Those ‘big books’ are a pretty rare occurrence and, unfortunately, completely unpredictable.   Not that people don’t try to guess which book is going to go viral.  After all, publishers are betting on books all the time; it’s part of the job.  They select books they believe will make money.  They pick books they hope will succeed beyond the writer’s wildest dreams.  But, even at its best, it’s a guessing game.  Try as they may, no one really knows what the next big thing is going to be.
The publishing world is changing so rapidly--ebooks, independent publishing, the internet, Amazon, fewer brick and mortar stores--publishers and agents aren’t quite sure what will happen next.  Some folks say the days of said agents and publishers are numbered as more and more writers take total control of their work, from creating the story to binding the book.  Others believe books themselves will disappear completely.  With publishing companies as one dish in a corporate smorgasbord, the pressure grows greater each day to satisfy the bottom line, to publish books that will make money—sure-fire hits.
Where does all this uncertainty leave the writer?  It leaves this writer confused and unsettled.  It also leaves me convinced that chasing after the ‘next big thing’ is akin to searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—sure, it may be there but it’s unlikely I’m going find it.  So, what to do?
Years ago, before I had published any books, I came to the realization that, for better or worse, I am on this planet to write.  It’s what I do and how I make sense of the world.  Last year, while under treatments for cancer, writing is what kept me sane.  The minute I could drag myself from the bed to the computer, I did so, knowing that, somehow, if I could write even one paragraph—chemo-brain and all—I was a step closer to being my true self, rather than the ‘invalid.’  The writing often felt like wrestling a bear because my brain didn’t work the way it had previously—I couldn’t remember words and often lost the sense of a sentence.  The work was frustrating because I forgot what I had written the day before and had to start at the beginning each time.  With all that, I am convinced I healed faster because I wrote.  I know my spirit healed faster.
Not only am I a writer, I write for the audience of One.  Once I accepted it was my job to mine my little vein of whatever talent I might have for telling a story, I realized the work was important to one person other than myself—The Great Creator.  And, whether or not my work was ever published, I was to write for the pleasure of this Creator. 
I still believe that.  I have certain stories deep in my soul that I want to write.  These stories are not the stuff of blockbuster hits—at least, I don’t think they are.  Who knows?  But they are my stories, tales that bubble up inside of me.  And I will write them.  I will write them because they are important to me, not because I expect to become wealthy as a result.  I will write them with love and respect, using everything I have to make them as rich and deep and beautiful as I can.  Most likely, they will be ‘little novels,” stories about people and what happens to them, how their hearts break open, how they mend, or how they are left with ragged edges.  I will never have time to write them all.  But I will try.  And I have made peace with the fact the next big thing will likely belong to someone else.  I will content myself with my stories; I am a writer.


  1. Beautiful post, Anne. Takes the pressure off a bit for us struggling writers.

  2. I loved this . . . and I agree 100%. Thank you for sharing.

  3. What an inspirational post, Anne. Thank you! It is incredibly difficult for all of us to sit at our desks and ignore the outside world when we write, but that's exactly what we have to do, in order to make the journey our own and not fashioned according to whatever the media perceives the next big thing to be.

  4. Perfect! Love this, Anne. Might just print it out and tape it to my desk!

  5. Beautiful post, Anne. Thank you :)

  6. Thanks for the reminders. You always narrow it down to the important stuff.

  7. I am writer, hear me roar. As always, Anne, you are inspiring.

  8. I really like this book, he does take on an incredibly wide range of cultural and technological changes that shape the world we live in. The short chapters worked well for me to have this as I book I read during the summer.

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