As 2012 cluck-skips along like a limp chicken on a treadmill, four million writers ponder the inevitable question: Why bother attempting to publish? Should we, whose novels remain unpublished and unloved, rise up and seize control of the means of production ourselves, abolish all agents, publishers and booksellers? The brief answer: no, we shouldn’t. Writers can’t be trusted to play nicely, we’d only publish ourselves and our friends. The answer to our current dilemma is simple—three and a half million of us need to fall on our swords.
We need to cull more writers. The more writers in existence, the more page-turning mediocrities clogging up the marketplace. As writers, we have only one task—to innovate, to present old ideas in all-new makeup and backless ballgowns, to fool critics into thinking we can “steer the novel in exciting new directions” in an age where the novel has undergone such feats of contortion it’ll probably never walk again.
I would fall on my sword happily, if I weren’t part of the small mass of shipwrecked Crusoes, signalling desperate, never-seen-before signs from my desert island in attempts to escape my prison of isolation. I may be twice as redundant as the well-trained prose-makers who assemble novels like IKEA cabinets—the populace would rather have a thumping good read over a detailed analysis of the songs of Kathleen Hanna set in a postapocalyptic ski resort, written in Danish iambs—but at least on my deathbed I can look back on a lifetime raging against the mediocre. Epitaph: AT LEAST HE WASN’T FUCKING BORING.