Listen to the Lobsterman, for he has the true knowledge.

"Caring will break before the man if he can only wait it out." Navajo saying.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Speaking of Train Wrecks (or: Why I'm Leaving the Book Publishing World Behind)

Welcome to the new blog. For the past 18 months I have been dutifully writing a blog called "Photo Tip of the Day." (Oh yeah, I'm a writer and photographer and teacher, by trade.) I wrote that blog almost every day (until recently) hoping that eventually it would develop a huge audience (it didn't) and hoping I could publish a book from it (I did). There is going to be a book based on the blog and it's called Jeff Wignall's Digital Photography Crash Course. It could not have been more aptly titled because that's what my life in the publishing world has been: a train wreck. I got a crash course, OK, a crash course in what not to do for a living.

Anyway, the book is being published in September by Lark books. Big deal. I've had probably a dozen books published and guess what, I'm still a starving writer. And some of the books have been major bestsellers. The publishing business, in case you don't know this, is skewed against writers. While we provide the books that publishers publish (what would they publish if it wasn't for writers and artists and photographers filling up the pages?), we get the short end of the stick when it comes to income from those books. Granted, publishers take a fair financial risk when it comes to publishing books, but the writers are, to quote the lobsterman, "All getting scrod."

Lately I've been going through a rough financial patch, to put it mildly. If it wasn't for the kindness of friends, I'd be wearing an orange slicker and hawking lobsters on a dock. In fact, that's probably a whole lot better way to earn a living than writing. As my friend Cool Bob (aka The Captain) says, "Retail is the perfect business: You sell someone some crap, they hand you some money. Deal closed." Right on.

Anyway, I have no idea where this blog is going, if anywhere. But unlike the last blog, this one has no ambitions. I'm not trying to create a book from it (heaven forbid I should go down that lame road again) and I don't give a crap if anyone reads it.

I do have a life away from books and cameras and photography and the publishing world. I can name you at least a half dozen things that mean more to me: cats, gardening, music, reading, travel and my occasional conversations with the Lobsterman.

Anyway, the point is, you can't get too focused in life or you end up trapped in a single latitude. That's what this life is about--or should be--trying to stay well-rounded enough so that you know when it's time to change sails. And maybe that's what this blog is about--my attempt to hoist a spinnaker for the downwind run. I've been beating to starboard far too long, trying to live on the edge of the wind and letting it push me around. Sometimes it's just better to go with the wind.

And let's just see where this whole thing goes. Come to think of it, I've always wanted to be an actor. So maybe that's what I'll be: an actor.  If you write a good play, let me know. Hey, if you're unemployed, you can be unemployed at anything you want to be. So next time someone says, "What do you do for a living?" I'll say, "I breathe." But if they ask me what I do for a job, I'll say, "I'm an actor between roles." Or a sailor between sails.

And by the way, the type in this posting has a lot of flaws--what's up with that? To tell you the truth though, I think I like it. All these blogs and websites are just too perfect looking. I miss the days when a journal was created with a notebook and a Flair.

If you have something to say, post a comment. If you don't, just turn up the music.


  1. I told you that journaling would be therapeutic (or did I?)

  2. Sounds like it's time to find a few more baskets to put your eggs in. Such is life. Hang in're not alone. The whole world has gone crazy, so you are in good company!

  3. This is very unfortunate.

    It's the same situation with the music business. I've read so many articles and interviews with bands that got completely financially killed by their own money-sucking record companies. I guess that's why many bands form their own record labels these days, although I'm not sure what the financial consequences of that are.

    I guess the true problem is that to make a living from the music or publishing business, you need extremely high volumes. To do that, you need the big publishers and their extensive distribution networks. But it seems that even with good volumes on your books, they still sucked the money out of you.

    It's a real shame...Hopefully this type of situation will change in the future somehow because we all need good books and good music.