Hi Reddit, this is my IAMA. My verified Twitter account: https://twitter.com/MargaretAtwood I am author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx + Crake) and I am exploring how what is written is changed by distribution: via Wattpad, Byliner, and my own co-venture, Fanado, a creator-receiver connector. Don Quixote had fan fiction, Dickens wrote serially: where are we going now?

Comments: 441 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

arcadiegirl143 karma


margaretEatwood104 karma

Hello -- Finally I found this. Thank you!

Not too difficult any more being female and writing SF and Spec Fic: Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler... used to be, but some still did it.

margaretEatwood71 karma

So, I replied -- did you see it?

margaretEatwood109 karma

OK I have to stop now, my back is giving out. I'll come back tomorrow and answer unanswered qs! Thanks to all!

Veeks82 karma

Do you see your dystopian futures - say, from Oryx and Crake or The Handmaiden's Tale - as a real possibility for our future?

margaretEatwood172 karma

Yes, unfortunately. Or some version of them. You might not get the red outfits in Handmaid's Tale, but some similar lows are being enacted in the US right now. The corporatism of Oryx and Crake is already in full swing. The internet is still a quasi-free zone, but only because it has fought off legislative attempts. However, as in Year of the Flood: if you can see it, it can see you. And your ebooks are reading you!

margaretEatwood73 karma

Are you seeing my replies?

bill__the__butcher59 karma

Ms. Atwood: thank you for doing the AMA! As a young Canadian, I absolutely love your work.

I know that you tweet quite often and must be online quite a bit time. Jonathan Franzen famously unplugs his computer from the Internet while writing and has spoken about how he thinks the internet is shortening attention spans and making it harder to read and think seriously.

My question is: Do you think the Internet and frenetic present makes it harder to read and write serious fiction and non-fiction?

margaretEatwood71 karma

Just found this! Thank you! Yes, I think the net is somewhat addictive. And it leads you on. You can get a thing called "Freedom" on which you book writing time -- it won't ket you turn on. One could just unplug -- but why is that hard? People are studying the adrenaline factor... as in gambling. Use with caution, I'd say.

swashbutler41 karma


I've been a HUGE fan(ado!) of yours since I read the Handmaid's Tale years ago. Since then, I've shared my copy with as many people as I could. I have a couple of questions:

  1. How do you feel about the fact that The Handmaid's Tale is still relevant today? It was published over 25 years ago, but it feels just as fresh of a statement on womens' rights today (especially in the US, where I'm from).

  2. How much of your material do you base on real life? I'm thinking specifically of a short story you wrote, "Under Glass," which I related to more than most things I've read.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. You're so awesome!

margaretEatwood77 karma

Just found this.. Thank you! 1) The Handmaid's Tale was less believed when I published it than it is now. People thought I was being alarmist. It's not the first time in history that things have swung back and forth like this... 2) I use things from real life, but transform them -- as fiction does.

theuncool34 karma

I also have a question about your writing. I recently read Ray Bradbury's book Zen and the Art of Writing, and he really advocated for a character-centered approach to writing. He said that he started with the characters and the story just came from the character as he wrote. Do you start with the characters? Setting always plays a very fascinating role in your novels and stories. Does that come before the characters for you?

margaretEatwood68 karma

The stories can start with anything -- an object, a voice, a sentence... then the character has to appear. If there's no voice there's no story, for me. All stories happen to a Someone. But they tale place Somewhere, and that;s important to me as well.

ChefQuix29 karma

What would you say is the greatest inspiration for your dystopian futuristic settings? I guess what I'm asking is do you write your fiction based on where you think we're going, or do you take a negative aspect of our society and magnify it to an absurd level?

margaretEatwood50 karma

Thanks -- it's all reality-based. Some of it may seem absurd, but there are folks thinking and working on these various things today. Will they happen? No telling, because no one can accurately predict the future. But they are possible.

DeLoRtEd129 karma

Hi Ms. Atwood! Thanks so much for the AMA.

Looking back at your university career at Victoria College, what are some of your fondest memories?

margaretEatwood53 karma

Ha. It wan't exactly a career. I spent quite a lot of time not going to class, sometimes. Was bad at AngloSaxon. I made many good friends who stayed with me, and had some excellent teachers. The people there were kindly +helpful for the most part. I acted in plays...and published in the college mag. It was intense.

yeahHedid29 karma

Hi Margaret. I tried to get the word out to the moderator of this subreddit as well as posted in r/books.

In the meantime... What do you see the future holds for the large publishers in light of access to electronic self publication?

margaretEatwood32 karma

Thanks -- I did answer this and post, but I don't see any little orange arrow, Did you get the reply?

paperboyscapo28 karma

What are your thoughts on re-creating classics to include zombies (Pride, Prejudice & Zombies) or, more recently, Sex? http://gawker.com/5927551/jane-austen-novels-to-get-erotic-makeover-because-all-books-must-be-sexy-now

margaretEatwood80 karma

It's having fun. "Parody," I'd say. It's been done as long as we've had literature.

BOomeek26 karma

Hello! I love your work, I love following you on twitter and I love how involved you are with your fans, especially through the internet.

I was wondering what your opinions are on writing and being an author with the way that distribution is changing? Do you think that ebooks will ever completely eliminate hard copies? Is this similar to what is happening with music (where it is easier for smaller artists to succeed and harder for popular artists to dominate the market like they once did?)

Also, when did you know for sure that writing is what you wanted to do? Or did it just sort of happen?

Thank you so much for doing this IAMA!

margaretEatwood43 karma

Lots of Qs! Last one first: when I was 16 and in high school. People thought I was slightly deranged. I got "Writers' Markets" and decided to write True Romance in the daytimes to make a living and Deathless Masterpieces at night in my garret.

Distribution methods have always changed what is written and how. I back Wattpad because it makes reading possible for a lot of people around the world who have no access to books, but who can read on their phones. Shorter forms are coming back -- see Byliner -- and I predict a return to serial writing and publication, facilitated by the net.

There is still however huge domination by larger names + books -- but more possibility for smaller ones, if they can figure it out. (Nobody has a perfect no-fail works-every-time recipe.)

Acrossbee22 karma

Hi Mrs. Atwood, thank you for doing an AMA! Huge fan of your work, Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood are two of my favorite books.

How do you think the internet is changing print fiction?

What are the effects of self-published e-books, fan fiction sites such as the ones you mentioned, and online serials?

Which one of your novels/ short stories do you feel most connected to (I realize this may not have a single answer)?

The world you created in Oryx & Crake was fascinating, both pre-and post "Flood." What were your major inspirations behind its creation, and what research did you do to tie it to a believable reality?

What are your goals for the future as a writer?

Thank you again for your art and for your interest in Reddit.

margaretEatwood36 karma

Hello: A lot of Qs here! 1) Short fiction forms are coming back: Byliner, Open Road, Narrative, others. They had dried up in print mags. (Except New Yorker.) Young writers learn most through shorter forms -- so that's good -- and there are places where you can post under a different name, thus avoiding jeers of peers. Wattpad, for instance. 2) I think serial publication will be back. Doing something like that myself on Byliner. Makes it impossible for the reader to peek at the end. (I am guilty of this.) 3) All the bio in Oryx and Year is researched, though some of it stretches things a bit. I grew up with the biologists, and try to keep current. Very fascinating things going on! 4) My goals for the future: Finish Maddaddam by November (3rd in series). Don't get run over or have heart attack. I think the first is do-able. Not sure about the other 2.

reatee22 karma

You are by far my favorite author, I love your work. What authors motivate and inspire you?

margaretEatwood36 karma

Thank you! A long list of authors --I've been reading for decades now.. beginning in childhood with B.Potter + the Grimms, then R.L. Stevenson, Jane Austen, the Brontes, and up and into the 20th C: Woolf, Faulkner, Hemingway, etc. A lot of SF and SpecFic + Fantasy. Just wrote about Ray Bradbury in The Guardian.

3wayhandshake17 karma

Do you think anything is being lost as we transition away from physical printed books to reading electronically?

margaretEatwood40 karma

I did a post a few years ago on www.YearoftheFlood.com called "Three Reasons to Keep Paper Books." There's a lot of thinking going on around this: will our history disappear into a black e-hole from which nothing can be retrieved? Will the end of cheap energy wipe out the net? Will the censors get hold of it? Is the net warping our brains + rewiring our neurons? The jury is out. But frenzied debate is going on.

[deleted]17 karma

What do you think of the recent trend of books like 50 Shades of Grey? How has recent pop/internet culture effected this book's rise to popularity?

What do you think of this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/17/classic-books-added-sex-scenes_n_1678522.html


margaretEatwood55 karma

This book obviously met an unmet need. In my day it was Peyton Place, which I read as a teenager on top of the garage roof. In Victorian fiction there was lots of sex, but it took place offstage. Times have changed! Even in Harlequins there can now be sex.

spkr4thedead5113 karma

What do you think of the collaborative effort led by Neal Stephenson?

margaretEatwood17 karma

I know Neal + I think it's very interesting -- there have been many collaborations in the history of writing, and screenplays are collaborative --as are movies and plays. This brings some of that interaction to the usually monomaniacal effort of novel-writing. (Anyway I think the Mongols are pretty fascinatiing. Only thing that cut them short was the Black Death.)

theuncool13 karma

How do you think that having tools like Wattpad and Fanado 30 years ago would have changed your career?

margaretEatwood25 karma

Quite a lot. In the 60s and early 70s we poets went around on the Greyhound Bus with cardboard boxes of our books, which we sold in highschool gyms. Some of that going on now, but they'd be more likely to know -- via the net. For Wattpad, see my piece in the Guardian: Why WattPad Works. I'd have used it as a young person!

vitzli13 karma

Where do you think the internet is taking the literary world? I know many budding authors who publish their work online for free, taking revenue from ad sales as they become more popular, and eventually putting their work in print should their fans be interested. As a new author with the internet, do you think you would have gone this route, or do you think the established process would have proved more beneficial (editors, publishing houses, etc).

margaretEatwood20 karma

There's a lot to be said for both. Established houses bring a lot to the table: street creds, expertise, a marketing staff, etc. But if I couldn't get in that way I might hire an editor + then self-publish. I handset my own first book of poetry, collaborated in publishing startup in the 60s.. where there's a will there's a way. (I have a nifty collection of rejection letters. Some of them just as well --- they were right!)

yeahHedid12 karma

Hi Margaret. I tried to get the word out to the moderator of this subreddit as well as posted in r/books.

In the meantime... What do you see the future holds for the large publishers in light of access to electronic self publication?

margaretEatwood16 karma

Thank you. I have been seeing some comments. But they are not in order. I think the large publishers will survive, as they are now adjusting to the e-age. And as many who self-publish have learned-- you can put it out there, but how to get readers? That has been true of paper publication, as well. There is however a price factor. Therefore those who love to read but who can't afford large prices will turn to other platforms; but some of those will supply quality. I think it will be a very rich and mixed ecosystem, with everything from Folio (illustrated paper books) and The Book Bakery to midsized literary e+paper like CoachHouse and Biblioasis and many many more, all the way to the Randoms and Hachettes. Everything!

123offwithyourhead11 karma

I love you.

margaretEatwood7 karma

Thank you!

ArtemisVan9 karma

As a graduate of Leaside High School, I want to thank you for being the answer to 90% of the literature questions on my trivia team.

margaretEatwood13 karma

I am so embarrassed! But if you want to deep dive into the Leaside of those days (when i was not a cheerleader, but was oddly on the basketball team, and did write the singing commercials for the formals, and was the Leaside entry in the Consumer's Gas Miss Homemaker contest, blush), there's some in Cat's Eye, and in the story My Last Duchess in Moral Disorder. My real English teacher, Miss Bessie Billings, bless her. She told me where I should go to college + she was right.

IAmTheRedWizards8 karma

Ms. Atwood - welcome to Reddit. I'm sorry.

You've brought up a number of interesting points about the future of short / serialized fiction (Wattpad, btw, is just about the best app I've ever used, I'm glad you enjoy it as well). Do you feel the novel still has a place in literature? With the myriad of options that the average person has for entertainment, do you think that they will continue to reach for a good book?

Also, I just have to take the time to relate something. I may be too late for you to read it, but it remain close to my heart.

My grandmother, who died recently, was a poet throughout her life. She even once sent some to you. I'm not sure why, maybe just looking for validation, but you actually responded and said that she had actual talent. I doubt you remember but it gave her some much-needed confidence and provided an antidote to her depression. I just want to extend my thanks for doing that for her, all those years ago.

margaretEatwood16 karma

You are welcome! I'm happy to hear about your grandmother.

Yes, the novel will live on, for this reason: reading is still the most neurologically active form (after actual experience). It is the only form that allows you to be fully inside the mind of an Other. With other forms, we are looking and hearing and guessing (and I love films, and have written screenplays). But with prose, you can be Inside in a way not possible otherwise. (My guess.) But I think the serial will come back (is coming back) via the net, and that novels will be read in sequential sections -- or some of them will -- as they once were.

muy_picante7 karma

Hi Ms. Atwood,

Thank you for doing this AMA. You are one of the great writers of our time. I'm a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, and your books have helped me continue to live a life of the mind here.

Ok, enough ass-kissing. What are you reading these days?

margaretEatwood4 karma

Madagascar! A truly wondrous though stressed place. Reading right now: The Man Who Planted Trees, Jim Robbins. Very pertinent to where you are. And have been recently with the Shadow Show crowd (anthol. in honour of Ray Bradbury), so revisiting some SF treats.

ezziecat7 karma

Hi Margaret! As many have said, thank you very much for doing this Q&A.

I am a fan of fantasy, sci fi and dystopian settings in particular, and thought you might find some amusement in the fact that Oryx and Crake was the first book where my desire to share the story outweighed my obsession with clean corners and unbent spines enough for me to brave lending it to my partner! It survived unharmed and I still love that book.

I would love to become an author in some capacity, and I have a particular passion for Children's Fantasy, but I am plagued by self-confidence issues which mean I am scared to even start... It must be a fairly typical question, but do you have any advice for simply enjoying writing and ignoring self-doubt?

margaretEatwood15 karma

First -- write something every day, no matter what. It could even be a shopping list. A letter. A journal entry. You might like a book called Bird by Bird. You might benefit very much from StoryIsAStateofMind.com, a downloadable, very precise motivation + coaching program, like an online creative writing course. You might post some writing under a different name on Wattpad - get some feedback without the blush factor. Good luck with it! Stick-to-it-iveness (as my mother used to say) is 90%.

[deleted]7 karma

I hyperventilated upon seeing this, which is kind of weird. I'm sorry. The Penelopiad was the highlight of my Modern Women Writers course my senior year of college. Of course I also loved Oryx and Crake as well as The Handmaid's Tale, which seem so cliche now that they are the ones that everyone has bothered to mention.

I feel that writing and writing styles have changed significantly over the past fifty years. Personally, I believe that Ernest Hemingway changed writing completely by understanding that in the world of modern technology a reader would have a shorter attention span than in times before. His writing was adjusted accordingly (a fact which seemed to ire Faulkner completely). In the times since Hemingway, there have been even greater changes. I've notice that online lit mags as well as publishing houses seem to desire bite size literature. They want something that can be consumed easily and that doesn't seem to require much thought. I could be wrong about this. Obviously, there are people like Gaitskill, Munro, Oates, Eugenides, Franzen, and yourself who still manage to tap into something deep within people. The stories that you write seem to tap into an emotional center.

Do you think that this will continue into the future, or do you worry (as I do) that literature is being watered down and that the young people of the future looking to relate in an atypical way to the world around them will have to seek out literature from centuries earlier to find that emotional core?

I know that history is still working itself out. Who knows what art will survive these times. I guess I just want to know if you are seeing an over saturation of poorly written works that might end up overpowering the lesser works. What things are being written lately that you see lasting for generations into the future?

margaretEatwood11 karma

No one can second-guess the future. But ever since the invention of printing there has been a lot of cheap 'n easy around. We think of the 19thC as full of nothing but classics, because that's what survived. It will be the same in the future of Now. However, Shakespeare would not have flourished had there not been a theatre producing scads of lesser plays, most of which have vanished. It's readers (of all kinds) and publishing (of all kinds) that allows ambitious work to come into being. (My belief.) Or: a country where chess is played by everyone will produce more great chess players than other countries. Or: you cannot have a great orchestra conductor in (not "from") a country without an orchestra.

jonuggs6 karma

When I was 9 years old I read at, what I was told was, "a collegiate level." With my parent's permission, I was given access to adult books - fiction, non-fiction, you name it, I was allowed to read it.

When I was 9 years old I found The Handmaid's Tale and read it over the course of a week.

I'm not saying any of this to brag. I simply wanted to say thank you for helping me to open my eyes to literature and so many other facets of life that interest me to this day. You made an indelible impression on a young man, and I can only hope that any children that I may have in the future will be just as rapt as I was when I introduce them to your works.

Thank you.

margaretEatwood4 karma

Age nine -- wow. I'm glad you enjoyed it at that age... I read some things at nine that were supposed to be for adults.. probably warped me in childhood, but I certainly remember them!

ratsandcats6 karma

Hiya! Canadian creative writing university student here. I've read 'You are Happy' a few times through this summer - its a lovely book.

Do you have any advice on how to balance the precision control of poetry with the surprising sparks of energy? Trying to keep both alive at once is something I've been wrestling with.

margaretEatwood7 karma

Wooo! That's a hands-on one-on-one pencil-in-hand question! Try reading your work out loud. You may be able to "hear" the live moments.

omwam6 karma

I'll be needing to read The Handmaid's Tale for school next year. Is there anything that I should bare in mind while I'm reading the book? Also what methods and writing devices did you use to create a shocking opening to your novel in chapter one?

margaretEatwood11 karma

There is a ton of stuff on the net and elsewhere about The Handmaid's Tale. There will soon be an Audible audiobook, very well read by actress Claire Danes. I've written about THT in In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. There is a beautiful illustrated version from Folio. There is an opera -- also a film. So, many aids! Best to know is that I made nothing up -- all bits were taken from history -- we've done it, sometime, some place. Good luck!

NovelTAcct6 karma

I just want to say that I think your books are wonderful and you're one of my favorite authors.

margaretEatwood5 karma

Thank you!

Confido6 karma

I am so surprised this didn't get more attention. Can someone cross post this to /r/books please?

Edit: I'll add a question, What is your opinion of the Kindle and other electronic book distributing devices?

I'm a little traditional in my ways so I will always prefer paperbacks.

margaretEatwood8 karma

I'm told I should have put my name in the title!

I did a post on this a while ago in my blog (marg09, or YearoftheFlood.com) about paper vs E, and got a lot of comments. Each offers advantages; I predict both forms will persist. Hardform drives e however -- not so much the other way around. So far.

Rammikins6 karma

What is your opinion on fanfiction of your work?

The Edible Woman is one of my favourite books.

margaretEatwood8 karma

There has always been "fanfiction," or people re-telling previously existing stories in their own way. A lot of Shakespeare's plays are "fanfiction" of this kind! So -- it ain't just what you do, it's also how well you do it. Modern fanfiction is usually tributory -- that is, it's by folks who like the original. Then there's parody, which makes fun of the original. Different things.

nonobadwife5 karma


margaretEatwood6 karma

You mean, as a theatre piece? It was fun! But it would be up to the theatrical folk to decide to do it again.

Glad you liked!

[deleted]5 karma

I'm not sure if this has been asked yet, but I'd just like to ask what got you interested in writing. If you could describe the circumstances/influences that led you to it, that would be awesome. Thanks so much!

margaretEatwood4 karma

Quite simple -- where I spent most of my time as a child, there were no other forms. (No movies, TV, radio, libraries, schools, or many other people). When it rained, you had two choices: reading, or writing+drawing. I was an early reader so I could read the Funny Papers, and an early writer because my older brother did it. I do wish I could have learned to play a musical instrument, however. (Kids will invent out of the materials provided. That's what they do!)

Kyandid4 karma

I don't have a question, but as a young Canadian man I want to thank you for making such powerful, well-written and eye-opening literature.

margaretEatwood8 karma

Thank you!

antigoneinexile4 karma

In reading Oryx and Crake, I was both intrigued and kind of bothered by the way Oryx functions in the story, like she's a reflection of the male characters. She's elevated to this godlike status, but not in the same way Crake is. I chose to read it as a critique, but I was wondering what your intentions were.

margaretEatwood7 karma

Young men are romantics. Or Jimmy is, and so is Crake. They idealize. You are seeing her as they see her, not as she is. And she ain't telling. A lot of female people don't! If the book were from her pov, it would be QUITE a different story.

GregPatrick4 karma

Ms. Atwood, I taught The Handmaid's Tale last year in the middle east and I was astounded that students did not make the connection between the novel and certain aspects of their own culture.

To me, the book was a cry against all forms of fundamentalism, but my students were unable to see this without my prodding. Did I miss something? Is the book a call against fundamentalism? Did you set out to write a novel with a "purpose" or did you just set out to write an entertaining novel?

margaretEatwood12 karma

Whenever religion and politics are one -- and by "religion" I mean also such things as USSR and Maoist-era orthodoxies -- totalitarianisms result, because any objectors become heretics. Of course if you think "yours" is right, you won't object to that. Maybe that was the block...

arnichol4 karma

You might not get to this, but I wanted you to know that I read The Handmaiden's Tale last summer and, despite my years of literature study, it was one of the only books I found nearly impossible to put down. It had a profound effect on my character and how I live as an individual in a crazed world.

My question: are/were you ever told to stop "rocking the boat" ie making observations or arguments to try to make people think? How do/did you deal with it?

margaretEatwood10 karma

I suppose I was not properly socialized -- i did grow up partly in a remote area. And the ethos of the family was "stick to it if you believe it's right." But I was shy as a young person and did not offer much in class.. however I did some acting early on - before that I had a puppet show. Maybe that helps one express.. I was then on the debating team (surprise). Yes, people have tried to shut me down over the years. As you can see, not entirely successful. For some of my more difficult moments in public, see a book called: Mortification: Writers and their Public Shame," to which I contributed.

coffeedonations4 karma

Having read some of your books, my favourites being The Year of the Flood and The Handmaid's Tale, I was wondering if you could clarify in layman's terms your take on what distinguishes a Science Fiction novel from any other genre. My understanding of science fiction has always been that it deals with possible futures within a realm of possible reality. If you could shed some more light on this I'd love to hear your opinions, aside from what I've been able to find on google. (I know this doesn't address your original question, but it's something that I've thought much on.)

margaretEatwood9 karma

There is a lot of argy around this subject. Speculative Fiction is sometimes used for the 1984 kind of novel you cite, and Science Fiction for the Star Trek kind -- which some call SCiFiFantasy. If there are dragons, it's Fantasy for sure. Let's say they're all Wonder Tales, with various subgenres. I write (mostly) the kind that could really happen. None of them are Thomas Hardy. I've written about this quite a lot in my book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.

damnsammich3 karma

I read The Handmaid's Tale when I was in sixth grade. It was truly a wonderful book, but back then I couldn't understand the full meaning. I think I'll re-read it now.

margaretEatwood5 karma

Sixth Grade! Yikes! Way too early! :)

fibsville3 karma

How do you think these new means of distribution will affect the future of poetry? Or, for that matter, what is your take on the state of poetry today?

margaretEatwood3 karma

I'm a Trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prizes, and they have helped the profile of poetry... and Wattpad is about to hold a poetry contest (rules coming on July 24) for which I will be a judge. People do write poetry a lot. And recite it: see the NEA program for high school kids in the US, and the Poetry In Voice/Les Voix de la Poesie in Canada. It's there when you look. But it can never be a blockbuster film! So not always a hige visible iceberg tip. More a large underwater presence.

[deleted]3 karma

Ms. Atwood, I can't say for sure where we're going, but I can say where we'd like to go.

It is a long held notion that people enjoy what they are familiar with, but that notion has been exploited to the point that entertainment has become formulaic while crony capitalism rules the day.

A new author with fresh ideas has a slim to nil chance of getting their foot in the door with publishers, but an author socially well-connected with insiders, who cranks out repetitive, formulaic garbage is a guaranteed sale.

This has long since brought about the stagnation of literary works in the United States such that, internationally speaking, our work is considered trite, unoriginal, and bland even if we do produce and distribute exceedingly well.

Where we'd like to go is anywhere but here. I've seen proposed a few times a crowd-sourced platform to identify new authors with noteworthy productions by allowing users to read submitted works for free and vote according to their opinion. This platform could serve a three-pronged purpose of allowing aspiring authors constructive criticism for purposes of focused development, consumption of original works by a volunteer community, and identification of upcoming talent by agents, editors, and publishers all to get fresh blood into the near-corpse of our literary landscape.

Communities exist along these lines, including some that augment the platform with the means for authors to sell works approved by the community. However, this has not caught on. It's not because the idea has no merit. It's because it has not been packaged and marketed properly. A forum or community that is rather back woods in Internet terms is not enough. We need a mainstream, highly visible platform. It needs to have a positive, inclusive atmosphere that invites both readers and would-be authors, developed around an adaptive platform designed to prevent gaming of the system.

Because where we would like to see things go is anywhere but this bland, trite place we currently find ourselves in, I believe that this proposal would be the vehicle to get us there. Where we will go in terms of themes, settings, new plot devices, novel characters, and inspired thought will hopefully one day best be described as, "Everywhere at once". If that can not happen, then I fear that your question is moot.


TL;DR: Where are we headed? Nowhere, slowly. Where would we like to go? Everywhere, quickly. Here's how.

margaretEatwood4 karma

The platform itself exists -- see Wattpad. And people are indeed experimenting with collaborative work, and developing templates that would allow what you propose (but for small kids, see PingPong Story). Some would say that things like Kindle Singles enable entry... but to get everyone to join -- that's a challenge. A great many writers prefer working by themselves. Maybe we should think about educating readers? For even if you achieve the proposed goal, there may not be readers who can engage with the high-quality work you envision. NB there are new publishers coming onstream all the time: check out Biblioasis and BookThug in Canada. There are lots in the US. And in the UK.

annarchy82 karma

The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books ever. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible talent and mind with us!

Where are you going now? And what can we do to help you get there?

margaretEatwood3 karma

Thank you! Where am I going? Right now? Off to write some #Maddaddam! ;) Down the line? Probably into some form of senile dementia. (Just kidding.) Thank you for your kind offer! You could always take an interest in Fanado, where I might be able to see you when I can no longer hobble about...

HashMcGruber2 karma

Mrs. Atwood,

I met the love of my life browsing bookstore shelves for Oryx and Crake. The first conversation we had was about your book.

Thank you very much.

margaretEatwood6 karma

Aw... (Heart emoticon) Nice to know! Maybe we should have an Oryx and Crake speed-dating meet-up? (Um-- maybe not.)

bmc1172 karma


margaretEatwood3 karma

Thank you! The Handmaid's Tale has accumulated a huge amount of online comment. Have a peek. Or check out my book In Other Worlds, where I write about it. But I'd pay attention to the bit at the end... it's all happened, sometime, some place. And I hope it is not a recipe!

rage_five2 karma

With the Toronto library debacle that happened not too long ago, are there any other ways we can protect our local libraries?

margaretEatwood3 karma

Protecting the TLS is a good example of how the net can crowdsource to send a message to politicians. It worked because people Already loved the system and were horrified to think they'd be deprived of it. The libraries are a lot like Tinker Bell: if you believe in them - if enough do -- and if you make that known to decision makers, they won't die.