A STORY by REBECCA DEMPSEY

AUTEUR


Transcript begins:


‘… as the Author, you’d think I’d continue to receive recognition for my works, but I’ve been talking to the legal department (on the other side, did you know?). They say I’m not even getting citations. And sales are down since the first run. I just want acknowledgement. All this post-modern palaver too. What do they mean death of the Author? I can’t die. Without the Author nothing gets written. Who do they think they are?’

‘No, that’s all beside the point; the problem is the future. Your works are out there. Everywhere, you can’t go anywhere these days without quotes sprayed on walls, or as memes on social media, as well as multiple full editions for download, or film versions. Forget about recognition: we know it’s you. No, what we’re worried about is, what next?’

‘What?’

‘Some are wondering if you’ve still got what it takes. Creatively I mean. You know, entropy and the ‘centre not holding.’ Since Blake and Yeats, some readers have been worried; they’re guessing business is finished.’

‘It’s never enough with you lot. I’ve done everything and it’s still not enough. Critics want avant-garde, readers don’t want to read because they’re too busy scrolling. My work was on scrolls first.


[Pause in discussion. Transcript continues]


‘Has it occurred to anyone that maybe I needed a creative break, before working up the momentum for the final magnum opus?’

‘A rest, yes - hang on, what do you mean final? The contract never mentioned retirement. You can’t just write one more work and that’s it. What about your public?’

‘I have a possible finish in mind, which would bring together all the loose ends. But I’ve got to consider my options. I might be better off to just cut my losses and run, since I’m not getting what I need any more.’

‘Look, how about we work through this. You’re the Author; you always have options...it could be serialised as micro-fiction. It’s all the rage for the commuter set. Or, maybe instead of a final work, you could start a new series, which is an automatic lure for movie rights. Your fans would be in your pocket and then you’d get attention for your earlier works. Think of it as a way to get a box set out there, for your audience. Especially the first ones, those action-adventure, supernatural family sagas are still so popular, but probably need an update. You need to know; without you and your works it’ll be meaningless and we’ve invested a lot you know.’

‘I might be just the Author but I’m in control, it was my say on the contract. I know it would be a first, but I could choose to pulp the whole lot.’

‘Nah ah. There’s the deal, you know, you did make a serious promise in the new contract after the last fiasco. What was it?’

‘It’s my copyright; I can do what I want.’

‘Not under the covenant. That’s right. These things are tricky, but even without looking at the fine print I can tell you your hands are tied. You’d be in arbitration for literal forever. Anyway, you’re in no position to be petulant, for someone who’s been resting on laurels for a couple of millennia.’

‘Pardon?’

‘I’m sorry, I’m sure you’ve been busy. Do you mind if I drink this? Sorry, we can so get you back on track. Say with global coverage for distribution? That’d be something huh? None of this unknowable, anonymous, mystical nonsense, that’s so passé. No, this time the publishers will have your name in big gold letters on the cover. Book trailers featuring famous actors reading excerpts. Guest spots on talk shows, podcasts, social media. Man, people are gonna worship you. Of course, it’s a free market, so I say all this with no guarantee. But a new work will bring you all the recognition you need.’

‘You really think so?

‘It’ll be huge, it’ll be-’

‘Stop. You publishing sales people talk too much. Enough. You’ve given me a view of the, ah, evolving market, but I’m putting my foot down. What I say is final. I am who I am, and the rules are changing. I’m ending it. Remainders will be bought up; it’s no use producing texts without anyone reading them.’

‘It’s going to be difficult; but hey like your main character says it’s your will be done.'


Transcript ends.

 

Rebecca Dempsey has featured and forthcoming works in Elsewhere Journal, Ligeia, and Miniskirt Magazine. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and can be found online at WritingBec.com.