Ryeberg Playlist: Writing Books

1) Ceci Tuerera Cela

Celina Arslanian, “Death Of The Author” (2009)

Once upon a time, the author suffered and lived for his text, like parent with child — as “Author God” with a message. Since then he’s become a mere scriptor, a person “born simultaneously with his text,” but a text that is little more than “a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.”

So argued the great Roland Barthes in his famed 1968 essay. Could he possibly have envisaged a digital age in which all books would become a single, continuous text accessible through little screens? Probably not, but he was certainly far-sighted: books do belong to readers. Today, we scroll through books, we plunge. Text is ours to scan, snip, paste and mash. The ghosts of dead authors may haunt our world, yes, but it’s a monadological world of perpetually interrupted discourse… so to speak.

2) Impecunious Taxidermists

And yet! So many people are still out there authoring books in the manner of Author-Gods, suffering for their texts as writers have always done, alone in darkened rooms.

Claudia Dey, “The Writing Process” (Writers’ Confessions, 2010)

3) In Solitude Show Courage

Once you’ve dragged the beast into the room, make aggressive cuts, work boldly. Write what must be written. Save the fear for naptime.

Jacques Derrida, “Fear Of Writing” (Outtake from “

4) Seek Compensation Enough

Michael Winter, “The Writing Process” (Writers’ Confessions, 2010)

So there’s your formula: retreat into solitude, accept an impecunious life, express your own truth against unremitting doubt, and instead of approbation, seek “compensation enough”… Hm, tough gig.

5) “How Many Editors Will Random House Assign To My Novel?”

xtranormal, “So You Want To Write A Novel” — thx Alison P

Ryeberg knows just the agent for this person, over at SlushPile Hell.

6) Seek A Publisher

You’ve written your book. Now let the world to read of your pain. Know there will be obstacles. There always have been.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, “Bronte Sisters Power Dolls” (2008)

Aw, editors aren’t all that bad. Even Jane Austen needed her William Gifford.

7) Coming Soon To A Bookshelf Near You

All right, your publisher is ready to release your super sad true love story. Adjust your eyes, you now have to act as the star of your own book trailer. If you get really lucky, Mary Gaitskill will do a cameo.

Random House, “Super Sad True Love Story: Trailer” (2010)

8) The Lingering Conversation

Punditry will take many monstrous forms. Reviews will be suspiciously too positive or too negative. Plaudits will incite disparagement. Just be grateful for every attentive reader.

Matt Cook, “Yesterday’s News #7” (zerotv.com, 2009) — thx Michael W

9) Page To Life Meets Life To Page

Then if you get very lucky indeed, one of the world’s book inhabitants will read your work and come to your house to chat about it.

Lannan Foundation, “Michael Silverblatt & John Berger In Conversation” (2010)

10) Reader, Envelop Me In Your Hands

Book as wordly escort, book as behavior manual, book as tear-maker… Why not? But how do books feel about all this? Disappointed.

The Diary of a Disappointed Book from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Hey, books always set their expectations too high.

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