Friday, December 13, 2013
The Writing Days of Yore
One can’t attend more than a few workshops, conferences, writer’s coffees, etc., before being clued in on the fact that the world of writing is changing. Writers are bombarded with new frontiers like self-publishing, print on demand, social platforms, or dire predictions that books won’t even be around in about five years' time.
But the biggest, most serious change, as far as I can see, is that writing does not have the same street cred that it did in the days of yore.
I wish I could go back to when being a writer was edgy. When you’d walk into a smoky bar and suddenly a glass of absinthe would appear with an understanding, that you, a starving artist would never pay your tab as you’d be dead or crazy before long. People would invite you to dinner parties as a conversation starter or curiosity. If you were a woman you’d probably have to live a double life and write under a nom de plume until you became wildly successful and had enough money to laugh at everyone. If you had any guts and wrote the truth, you’d probably offend big brother and have to decamp to some exotic location or else be killed.
People would expect you to be a disorganized freak show. In fact they’d be disappointed if you weren’t. You were an artiste and normal occupational policies and procedures would never be expected to apply to you.
Not like today when writers have to balance being savvy business people who must understand what the market wants, how to write for their genre while simultaneously discovering the next big thing if they want a chance at making a living off their writing. They must balance all this with the hope that a tiny bit of their original, unadulterated creativity shines through and hasn’t been bludgeoned to death by their desire to be attractive to an agent.
I have my theories as to the culprit of this disheartening shift but I'd like to hear what other writers think before disseminating my startling revelation. Any thoughts?