A certain amount of attrition must be expected on any creative journey. Each person has expectations, realistic or not, about the process that may remain unfulfilled. They will move on. In what I shall refer to as ‘classical times‘, i.e. prior to the internet, that journey did not include unrelenting devotion to commercialization of the self, in a lowest-common-denominator way.
Historically, the reality for the majority of writers was minimal success, minimal recognition, minimal remuneration, and the faintest of hope for some level of posthumous acknowledgment of merit.
In short: the more things change, the more they remain the same. The trope of the struggling, starving author is alive and well and can be found residing on Amazon. What *is* different is the pact with the devil we all must sign: commit every waking moment to marketing, promoting, blogging, interacting … in short selling your soul in the vain hope of being heard above the cacophony.
Where once we had gate-keepers to help us select, we now have a smorgasbord of equally weighted offerings that increases exponentially every day. Note: ‘equally weighted’ does not equal ‘quality’. Art and craft have become randomized in a manner none of us could have predicted. And while it is true that those who fall off the radar may have done so out of disappointment or unwillingness to stay the course (nothing new there), there are legions of others who find that the disintegration of the quality of their lives is simply not worth the price of admission.
Writers complain about isolation, yet the fact is the so-called ‘social media’ are intrinsically isolating. Interactions become virtual, not physical, and for far too many it supplants the authenticity of the human bonding experience.
Again, in classical times, authors had like-minded groups to which they retreated for discussion/argument (the French salon, the Chinese literati) – they met face-to-face, wrote long, carefully crafted letters and otherwise enjoyed the one thing we’ve lost sight of: the ability to step back, think, consider, study and take the *time* just to be…
And to be clear: these so-called social media exist for one simple function – generating income for someone else, someone … not *you*. Face Book decides *who* you get to interact with, continually changes the terms of agreement and the functionalities, all in order to realign their site into one that generates profit.
I won’t go into the dissolution of social mores and the decline of etiquette in forums – you are surely all too aware of that trend.
But consider this: you are told that you *have* to blog/FB/Google+/Twitter in order to stay in the game, yet the fact remains that it still comes down to luck, a fortuitous alignment of the stars and sometimes who you know. You have entered a Powerball contest, with the least and the best-qualified in a virtual sea of numbers.
And for those convinced she doesn’t have a point: here ya go …
Don’t point a disparaging finger at those who choose to remove themselves from what has become a three-ring circus, a room with no exit, a hamster wheel. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush-stroke. Life is choice, some choose to follow a path designed by others, some choose to create their own. And even if you choose the way of social media you still have a modicum of control over when and how much.
So, as they say: choose, but choose wisely.
As someone who is on the brink of withdrawing in many ways, I appreciate this.
It’s a teeter-totter, should I, shouldn’t I. If nothing else, I believe we are in good company.