Tuesday 5 May 2015

A coracle at sea

Launch is a nautical term. To launch a book is to put it into a sea of readers. Between the Shelves is launching May 6 at 7 pm at Stanley Milner Library. I have a short story in the collection, "Melvil Dui Conquers All." We are planning a creative launch, with a prize puzzle as well as the traditional readings of excerpts by some participating writers. 

USS Iowa Displays Its Firepower (from Wikimedia Commons)
Nowadays people use the word "launch" in business circles to describe the start of a marketing campaign. "Campaign" is a military term, which makes the idea of a campaign launch invoke images of flotillas of highmasted sailing ships or bristling battleships. Publishing is as businesslike as any of the other industries that launch or campaign. In the case of Between the Shelves, however, all money goes to the Edmonton Public Library as a donation.

Nevertheless, writing as part of a business (that is, to make a profit) may conflict with the goal of being creative. Not that businesses don't need creativity. When it comes to the arts, however, a fear emerges that the goals of creativity might be subverted for the sake of increased profit. Rather than allow oneself to achieve a creative vision, an artist may turn that creative energy towards marketing the product rather than in making the product, or indeed, may make the process of creativity seem an unproductive sideshow for the big-tent attraction of maximizing profit. In a monetary economy, people need money to buy what they need, so that artists must come up with ways to acquire money. The artist's dream of having a sponsor support one's work is a reality for some artists (those people who inherit money from their wealthy families or have a money-generating spouse). Certainly, working artists often have that background, so the artist often is associated either with membership in an upper-class social stratum or with bohemian penury. 
From Wikimedia Commons

There's much space between these two poles, though, and most artists probably inhabit that in-between. Still, for many, a launch may involve a ship humble in dimension. The man of war may attract a crowd at the dock, but a tiny coracle out at sea, viewed from an unpopulated shore through binoculars, is more beautiful, and braver.