Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cow on the Rails, Writers in the Recession - Michelle Lovric


A few miles outside Bruton, the train driver slams on the brakes. Once the train has jerked and shrieked to a standstill, there’s an eerie moment of silence. Then we feel an ominous vibration beneath our feet.

Some of us rush to the windows. We’re the first to hear the dinning hooves and then the violent mooing. Our train is marooned in a stampede of escaped cows.

Black, brindled and brown monsters thunder past on either side of us, juddering our metal walls and showing us the whites of their eyes. Compared with their rampant kinetic emotion, the train suddenly seems quite provisional and fragile. For a few moments we don’t know how this is going to end.

And yet the hindsighted brain knows that those cows were terrified of us. And even in the moment, I felt sorry for them. Those cows reminded me of writers faced with a speeding recession.

This ugly, dangerous thing, noisily bruited in the press, has appeared among us. Some of our number have been carelessly let out of their safe publishing contracts. We have wandered into the wilderness. We hope that the farmer-publisher will come and round us up, but the freedom is slightly heady too. If not penned in by a contract, who knows what we might write? What new fields we might graze in? What adventures we might have?

Mostly, we stick together and stampede, terrified. We believe all the doomsayers when they tell us that there is no future for historical fiction, thrillers, bite-lit, chick-lit, misery-lit, Aga-lit – whatever it is we write, that is the very genre heading for remainder hell in a handcart.

Someone shouts, ‘It’s okay to write Olympics stories now!’ and the writers stampede in that direction, no-one wanting to admit the latest fear: that the market is already saturated with such proposals. Not all of them can make it.

But we keep galloping. Because onwards seems like the only safe place to go.




Michelle Lovric’s website



International Society for Cow Protection website

8 comments:

Nick Green said...

If we write, we starve. If we don't write, we starve. Better to write and starve.


p.s. Only you would have thought of adding the cow link. :-D

Rosalind Adam said...

Hilarious comparison but a moving one too. I won't be telling my family about the cow likenesses. I've enough trouble coping with the rejection letters ;-)

kentcabe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elen Caldecott said...

I agree with Kentcabe, unless he's advertising enhancements to bits that are perfectly content as they are.

Lovely post, Michelle! Did you really get swamped by cows? Mental.

steeleweed said...

As a one-time cowboy, I can assure you the image is apropos.

Kate said...

I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. Good comparison

Kate xx

Nishant said...
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Stroppy Author said...

Lovely, Michelle. You need to buy a copy of the book Velcro Cows. It is fantastic. There are four used copies on amazon. I would buy it and send it to you, but there is this dirty great train in my house...