I've been slowly making my way through rereads of Anne of Green Gables, and sequels. Like so many of the series I loved as a child, I've read the first books many times. The later ones? Not so much.
I'm sure there are a few explanations for this, but one of them has to be that I just hate my favorite characters growing up and getting old and giving way to new generations. I hated it in Little Women (okay, technically Jo's Boys by that point), the later Little House on the Prairie books, and certainly once we get to talking about Rilla in the Anne books.
BUT that's not what I set out to talk about when I sat down to write this blog. I was going to talk (and will still talk) about Rollings Reliable. (For your reference, it's in the third Anne book, Anne of the Island.)
Anyone remember this? Anyone?
Well, for those who haven't read the Anne-girl books in a while, Anne tries her hand at writing. She writes a "perfectly pathetic" and dramatic story entitled "Averil's Atonement," sends it off to several major magazines, and...gets rejected. Yeah. This part should be pretty familiar to a lot of you. It's pretty dramatic -- Anne even swears that she will never write again.
I could say SO much about that (and I probably will, at some point), but this blog is not about forsaking writing forever. It's about the Rollings Reliable baking powder competition that takes place a few chapters later. Diana enters Anne's story without telling her, inserting some apt words about Rollings Reliable baking powder, and the story is picked.
Anne, of course, is devastated over the hideous commercialization of her baby. And I can understand that. But the thought that comes to mind is this: if you are a novelist, or aspiring to be, isn't some degree of commercialization to be expected? Of course the vast majority of writers have strong visions of their story, and work very hard to stay true to the heart of their story. And agents and editors -- they're lauded in the acknowledgments as always working to discover the story's soul, to make each book as perfect as it can possibly be.
But isn't there something more? Because after all, no editor would acquire a book that he or she believed would not sell. Some books are bestsellers, anticipated or not. And some books are abject failures. But besides being a beautiful work of art, besides being the vessel into which the writer pours a story that has been gnawing at her for years -- isn't the point, at the end of the day, to create something that will sell?
Not that I'm going to be putting Rollings Reliable advertisements into Chapter Three of my historical fantasy novel anytime soon... But seriously. Would any agent even look at my book (whenever it gets finished) if they thought it would never sell, or that I didn't have a talent that would, eventually, sell?
Yes, writing is about beauty. Yes, it's about issues, it's about important messages and pain and love and art. But at the end of the day, it's about money too.
(This message brought to you in a circuitous way by Anne of Green Gables, who would be appalled to hear such callous acceptance of our capitalist society.)