At his book launch in 2008, Will Self responded to a question about managing his time as both writer and media personality. Although his answer was brief, he talked about the writer’s need to adopt a ‘corporate culture of one’. This is a clever phrase, capturing as it does so many of the diverse elements involved in working successfully as a writer, at both an artistic and business level. Such a phrase seems to suggest at least some of the following:
1.) An identification of a vision, and a game plan in terms of how one intends to get there.
2.) A canny division of resources, particularly in terms of time.
3.) Meeting deadlines.
4.) Marketing – promotion of oneself or product.
5.) Self-reflective practice – how to develop, improve, increase etc.
6.) Publicity – readings, signings, public appearances.
7.) Quality control. Setting personal standards.
8.) Self-monitoring in terms of productivity and targets.
9.) Development of effective partnerships, working relationships (publisher, editor, agent etc)
Of course these are a contrasting range of demands, largely at odds with the Romantic notion of the muse struck divine, working in painful but necessary isolation, with a devil-may-care attitude towards the working world. Within a corporate environment these various roles would be divided between those with specialist skills, whereas the writer must, in a smaller way perhaps, undertake each of these roles himself. This, then, is the writer’s burden, his challenge and his gauntlet. To even have a chance of writerly success, it seems the subtle conjurer of words must also become a master of industry.