Occupy 24th Street

Attention fellow-writers:

We are taking back our craft and our lives! Next Saturday at 3:00PM join me as we stage the biggest literary protest since that time we met at Roger’s house and agreed that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn’t all that great.

Inspired by our fellow freedom fighters marching on Wall Street, our protest will be a grassroots effort promoted through various social media outlets. However, due to the grammatical errors, not to mention the thematic clichés and pacing problems found on Facebook, I never use that pedestrian website, or any website. Instead, I use the Area Arts bulletin board at Java Kate’s Coffee X-Press to connect with friends and followers. As is no doubt obvious, if you are reading this, I’ve posted this notice there, next to the flyer advertising the gently used bike.

I also don’t use Twitter because I think we all agree Twitter is simply the CB radio fad of the 2000’s. We can easily reach the same number of people using brightly colored buttons worn on hats or pinned to canvas bags or, if — like so many in our trade — you’re young and a bit deranged, pierced through the nasal septum. Speaking of CB radios, I’m using one right now! I find comfort in analog radio technology. The sound and experience is much warmer and truer than Internet communication. So far I have attracted two people to our cause, but unlike the “people” you meet on Twitter and Facebook, the folks you connect with through CB radio are real. That’s marketing penetration no website can match. 

Please use similar methods to help spread the word. We will need to seek out other writers suffering during this most difficult time. Places to find writers include coffee houses, high schools, therapists’ offices, and other high schools. Also, if you see anyone riding a bike and wearing a scarf, that’s a writer. Get the word out!

Once organized, we will march on 24th Street — a site we’ve chosen because like life itself it has no meaning until we writers give it meaning. There we will show the world that we’re mad as hell, and taking it any more is no longer an option. I’m sure you are as angry about the current state of publishing as I am, and together we, unlike the books many of us write, will not be ignored! 

Our demands, like those of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, are a bit unfocused at the moment. That doesn’t matter. First we march! Then we decide what, specifically, we want. Holding back these emotions will only make matters worse in the long run. It’s time to yell! Yell words — which also just happen by a fortunate coincidence to be the raw material of our craft.

And here are a few chants you should yell: 

“The Left is Right” — This slogan obviously reflects our feelings regarding the desire to begin a book on the left hand page. For far too long our art has been hindered by the fat cats at the printing houses who tell us that every first page of a novel must be on the right hand side. It’s 2011! If I want my novel, House of Glass: Book 17 of the Whisper Chronicles, to begin on the left-hand page, then that should be my…well…right! Get your laws off my book!

“E-crooks!”or “E-overlooks!” — E-books have made it too easy for readers to skip over the Acknowledgments page of our books. We demand new technology to prevent this. All the hard work put into crafting elegant ways to thank people goes unnoticed. This may not mean much to the rich e-publishers, but they’re not the ones fielding the angry phone calls from my under-appreciated editor, fact-checker, dentist, medieval-cape expert, accountant, bee historian, wood specialist, and Aunt Clara — without whom my novel, “Bees,” would never have been published or as medically accurate. 

“Rights Ahoy!” — We demand to retain not only all movie rights but, almost as important, statue rights. If the book is made into a statue, we must have full creative control of the project. 

“Review Boo!” — Those who post online reviews must prove they have read the book by taking a simple exam. And all negative reviews must end with, “But hey– what do I know?” Can we also control the type size of reviews, with a 9-pt. ceiling, maybe? And restrict the font to Dingbats?

“No more ghetto!” — Our work cannot simply be confined to one specific area of the book store! We want all our books treated equally — suspended from the ceiling via stretchy rope that will dangle and wave the books in front of customers’ faces. Or maybe a little higher, so that they have to jump to get them. I think that’s called incentivizing. But of course we will demand that stores provide hydraulic lifts for the disabled.

To the ramparts, ye scribes. Thee hath nothing to lose except maybe a little dignity, which thee can go some distance in restoring by using old-fashioned nouns and pronouns.

Dan Bergstein is a writer for SparkNotes.com and (O.K., O.K., obviously) Grin & Tonic.