The Crowd Is Forming

Today is what we in the United States call Black Friday. It’s nice to see Americans have a sense of humor about themselves, giving the first frantic shopping day of the holiday season such a macabre name. But if you live in Seattle, and you are roaming the malls, do not look for me. I will be sequestered in my office, waiting out the storm. I have only two phobias: heights and crowds. Phobia is maybe too strong a word for my feelings about crowds (though not heights), but some deep loner’s instinct consistently points me in the opposite direction of wherever the largest number of people is gathered. Don’t get me wrong: I like people. I honestly do. Yet I feel about crowds like I do about publishing trends: it’s too late.

Editors are forever advising writers not to chase publishing trends. For instance, I notice angels are currently on the rise (see Danielle Trousoni and Lauren Kate), and zombies seem to have reached some kind of saturation point. Unfortunately, by the time you finish your angel novel and get it into shape to be submitted, the publishing world will have moved on to ghosts or psychics or love triangles. Unless you have built a publishing-response mechanism like James Patterson, best to write what interests you most.

Anthropologically, crowds have usually meant survival to humans. To be cast out of the tribe was to wander the wilderness alone, easy pray to lions and hard weather. One of the great gifts of modernity is the expansion of the concept of tribe. Tribes sprout like mushrooms worldwide, gathered now around the campfire of a common interest. There is no true wilderness now but the lie of isolation. Find what interests you most, ring that bell as loud as you can, and all the other like souls, their ears tuned to a sound they cannot name, will move toward you just as you most toward them.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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