Charlie Stross on the Youth of Today

I haven’t visited Charlie Stross’ blog for awhile, but I picked up Halting State last week and thought I’d have a peek to see what he’s been up to… Below is a clip from a post on 2/1 that I found instructive for several reasons:

1. Nice overview of timeframes for budding authors to think about when pinning their hopes and dreams on novel publication bingo (hint: don’t).

2. Sensational insight on understanding the long term impact of the book you write today and who may be reading it in the future.

Youth of today:

I write novels for adults. (And I’m not about to start writing YA now, for various reasons.) A typical novel takes 1-3 years from the initial pitch to the first publication, and stays in print for 5-10 years; this means that a gap of up to 15 years separates the initial conception from the final “new” reader.

Now, reading as a habit is something you either pick up in childhood, or never acquire. Then most adolescents stop reading as much. A small proportion then go back to it after their hormones settle down (sometimes a long time later), and these people will continue reading for the rest of their lives, as a rule. And they — if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them — are the people who ultimately pay me a living. It’s therefore a good idea for me to know what today’s 18 year olds have grown up understanding about the world, because an 18 year old who’s about to reacquire the reading habit today is probably going to be the 33 year old who picks up the last reprint copy of, say, “Halting State”, some time in 2021.

[Via: Charlie’s Diary]

If you’re wondering what I think of Halting State so far, it feels like a cross between Ian Rankin, Irving Welsh, William S. Burroughs, and Bruce Sterling. As always, Charlie’s work is a like Brian Eno’s wall of sound, except in his case it’s a wall of ideas that just keeps washing over you. Yeah, I like it. I like it a lot.

Also, here is a convenience link for Charlie’s essay on the Writer’s Lifestyle.

Here is my favorite quote:

So you eat or starve on the basis of your ability to put your bum in a chair and write. BIC or die, that’s the first rule. Lifestyle issues come a distant second.

Oh, don’t forget that part above where he says it takes 1-3 years to get it on the shelf. 🙂

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