We owe immense debts to the past; remembrance is a token of our respect.
You may consider me your ambassador from the past.
For more than four years I’ve posted the blog Reflections, seeking fresh meaning in our common past, on WordPress.
Now, I’m adding Substack to the mix.
This might be a good time to share my concerns. These are my assumptions:
- The past has fresh messages for the present. It takes retrospection to understand our present time. Unless we continually water the plant of remembrance, our roots will wither and we will die.
- Where we are now is not an immutable grant. The past is a separate kingdom, and those who venture there may be rewarded by self-knowledge.
- We get wiser as we get older, but only if we are paying attention.
The American-English poet T.S. Eliot wrote
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
I write about historical events—what they meant at the time and what they mean now.
I write about personal memories—how they have influenced my life.
I write about what it is like to write about past and present and their close relationship.
I write about how life differs today from the way it was in days gone by.
I write about all the ways in which the past informs the present.
If you have not read my blog before, you may wish to sample a few earlier entries:
So this is what I do. Why am I suddenly doing it on Substack?
First and foremost, to expose my work to a wider spectrum of readers.
Secondly, to offer readers the opportunity to support my work with cash. You are not required to do this. You can read everything I post for free. But if you want to support and encourage my work, Substack offers a convenient way to do it.
Why do I mention this second point? The writing life is not remunerative. There are conferences to attend, websites to maintain, software to update, books to buy, manuscripts to print. Most book fairs and festivals charge a fee for a booth or table—a fee which may or may not be recouped by sales. My subscription to Publishers’ Marketplace, an essential tool for writers, costs $25 every month.
In the seven and a half years since becoming a full-time writer, I have spent $9,000 more on the project than I have earned in book sales and other income. I persist despite the dollar cost, because I have something to say, and I will not live forever.
For every James Patterson or Stephen King there are thousands of us who never receive enough for their writings to break even, let alone make money. Substack is offering a different paradigm, in which readers can support writers by paying them.
From my point of view, it’s worth a shot.
Whether you pay or not, I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts. And if you do, tell others.
Larry F. Sommers
Your New Favorite Writer