In My Day, if a person wanted to excrete their creativity in the form of the written word – apart from private letters, there were really only three outlets for them to choose from: newspapers, magazines and books.
The problem was – all three of these media were restricted to PROFESSIONALS. People with degrees in English and/or journalism who had dedicated their lives to becoming proficient in the science of WRITING.
And if a non-pro wanted to see themselves in print, the best they could hope for was that their letter would be picked from the thousands of submissions to a “readers letters” page. Or, of course, they could “vanity-publish”.
Thus would-be scribes who lacked the training, experience, ambition, talent or any combination of the above to BECOME pro-writers were doomed to consign their creative output to a DRAWER. But no more.
NOW, we have the Interweb. Anyone with a few hundred Pounds to spare can set themselves up with a personal computer, sign up with an outfit like WordPress and GO for it – but this new freedom comes at a price.
In short – These Days, More People Write Than READ.
An alarming statement – but could it be TRUE? Well, how many times have YOU read a piece you strongly disagreed with – then discovered it had a facility for feedback – so you wrote a rebuttal – but then realised your piece was one of hundreds – maybe thousands – and when you read them, it became obvious that most of the contributors had read the initial piece – but NONE of the subsequent COMMENTS?
And it’s the same all over the Web. Some wit once wrote, “Opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one.” And as one scans the unending outpouring of WORDS here, one begins to see the reality of the situation that now exists.
Gone is the cachet of being a pro. ANYONE can write today. And the scary part – particularly from the viewpoint of those pros – is some of those whose voices would NEVER have been heard without the Web – are actually rather GOOD.
This commentator came to creative writing late in life. I was in my early forties when by a fluke, I took over an ailing Mensa publication and began putting my stuff Out There. But it was the mid-Nineties and PCs were still the domain of techies and nerds. Thus my organ (if you’ll pardon the expression) was part of the popular media – I was a WRITER.
However, these days even the tramp in the gutter has a laptop under his vomit-stained raincoat. EVERYBODY’S at it. But if everyone is busy WRITING – who is doing the READING?
The general non-writing public? But now they have so much stuff to CHOOSE from – and there are only so many of them.
Other bloggers? But they’re too busy WRITING to READ!
The government? Well, sure. They’d be dumb NOT to. It’s the best way to keep their Finger On The Pulse of Joe Public.
But I don’t write for THEM. No-one DOES.
And while my ramblings have so far generated 60,000-plus hits, many of them might have been triggered by those who only read my first sentence, then moved on (these days, most people possess the attention-span of a goldfish).
Thus the daunting reality is that my words might actually have reached not MANY more than those written by people who wrote to “get it out of their system” – then chucked it all in that drawer.
But how many people do I WANT to reach? A million? Would that be any better than a thousand? Or ten? Or – Zen – how about ONE? Just ONE person who after reading my stuff, began to THINK – then went on to have a better life, as a result of absorbing the wisdom and experience I’ve tried to weave into these columns.
Maybe that’s the best ANY of us bloggers can hope for…