Darlington: Rookie Drivers and Writers

We trekked to South Carolina, out in the middle of nowhere, to a place called Darlington, to see the truck race last Saturday night. Given how far the track is from pretty much anywhere with a hotel, the crowd was amazing. While the stands were nowhere near full, they were shakin' and cheering, and filled with more bodies than we'd expected to find. The squished seats were about as bad as during a Sprint Cup race.

Once again, a Cup driver in great equipment wins a lower tiered race. Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag, and the nice thing about it was, he seemed genuinely thrilled. But does this make it right? On one hand, the experienced drivers can teach a few tricks to the newbies, like Johanna Long. But at what cost? The young rookie drivers starting out generally don't have great equipment or sponsors with deep pockets, and a run into the safer barrier pretty much kills their day. I understand there's no way Nascar can tell a driver he/she can't run a race in any of the series (unless there's a legal reason, such as drug use, or lack of experience at a tough track like Talladega), but it seems as if there's no safe place for young drivers to learn their trade as long as the upper echelons of the talent pool, with their money behind them, splash in the smaller puddles and then take home all the rubber duckies. (Mixed metaphor, I know, I know!)

It's like the business situation for newer writers these days. Once upon a time, a publisher would take time to bring along a promising young author, working with each successive book to build a fan base and improve the published product. Not anymore. Didn't hit it big with your first book? Good-bye, and don't bother to submit to us ever again. Where can young writers learn about publishing except from the actual doing of it?

Perhaps ebooks will be the savior of promising new writers who have been shunned by the money people in their New York high rises for whom the bottom line, not the nurturing of talent, is the only goal. I sure hope so.