Monday, December 1, 2014

How Easy It All Is

Good news. I just saw a FB posting for a writing class offered by someone in the community. The outline of the course shows 6 classes, and here is the good news: It only takes 2 of those classes to get through the writing and then the 4 last classes are all about publishing and marketing.

And actually, you cover the "basics of writing" in the first class and the second class is all about "staying inspired."

I think what we should do is have musicians forgo learning their instruments as well, and skip right to costumes and makeup and the pose of the tortured artist for the twitter pics.

Anyway, I thought that was pretty stupid, but then the comments about it were all so sycophantic and ridiculous I had to follow it a little bit. I found one person who commented had recently posted on FB that she was excited about a new short story she was publishing through Amazon and to illustrate something (how excited she was probably, though I think it was implied this actually illustrated her commitment), she added she'd been working on it all morning!

To be fair, she might have meant the layout or the cover design, or many other things, but I kind of think she didn't.

It struck me as quite odd, of course, but then I realized it's not that different from how some writers who publish traditionally talk about themselves, too, and it recalled for me a bit from A Moveable Feast, where Hemingway wrote something like it made him sick to talk about writing. I understand that, because unless you're talking about a specific work then you are talking about "being" a writer, and that's ridiculous because so many people, talented and otherwise, claim that title, and then chatter about writing constantly, instead of writing.

And these are grownups, too, not the people I knew back in my undergrad who would introduce themselves as "poets" and then write inane and obvious observations about the world 6 inches in front of their face and how just observing it made them suffer so. Now, when they are grownups, it's pretty similar, but they write touristy things -- for instance, they are academics, writing 6 poems in 6 days because they went to a new location for a conference and must describe the injustices to everyone else in this world.

Now I was just going to write "They are heroes, really," but one problem these days is how to read things these days, how to find sincerity, how not to be bullied by a writer who appears instantly due to contemporary technology and whose uniform changes daily, one who responds to any sort of critique or engagement with contempt, implying the reader has mistaken satire for sincerity. So, we cop out all the time.

What all of this leads to is the notion that all writing is equal. There is another guy I know who is described sometimes as a journalist, though he does not investigate, or research, or discover new information -- all he does is write stuff that is meant to inspire. I suppose it is honest, but it's meant to inspire in the same way a motivational speaker does, or Jack Handy. He's not a journalist.

I was asked in the fall to read at the local library with some other local authors. It was pretty odd, because when I looked into it I realized that none of the authors aspired to write literature, and none of them had anything in common (aside from the fact that 2 or 3 were self-published). I asked the librarian who asked me to do it what his rationale was. He said he hadn't looked at any of the work by the authors. How does a librarian become a librarian without a bit of an aptitude for research, or even a tiny bit of curiosity? Anyway, he seemed annoyed that I did not want to be on a panel including self-published authors of self-help books, investment advice books, and books of religious inspirational stories.

Anyway, the message is you spend the morning writing, then publish it in the afternoon so you have time to market it the rest of the week, I guess.

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