Saturday, January 07, 2012

 Ego is the nemesis of writers. Whether it is through judgement of Self, or judgement by others or judgement of peers there is an endless churning of doubt and dictate which despoils the writer's landscape.

Perhaps the truth is that writers suffer because they must. Perhaps published writers and successful writers suffer far more than the likes of the unpublished because they have so much farther to fall and the judgements are so much more powerful and destructive.

At the end of the day none of it matters in the scheme of life. There are far more important things than words on a page. Perhaps this is something we refuse to believe in our 'youth' and come to see as a truth as the years pass. Then again, I don't think I ever cared enough about 'success' or being published to really try hard. I have thought more than once that the realities of such a state would not suit me.

I look at young writers, well, optimum age writers, the magical thirties when publishers and agents salivate at the sight because they see profits writ large for what, yet another thirty or even forty years, working so hard to sell themselves - in fact, doing all the work which agents and publishers once did. There is an irony to it. Now it is harder to be published, and harder to be successful in any literary or marketing sense simply because there are so many people now writing, so many more people now writing, and so many more being published online. A wealth of 'riches' or a bounty of mediocrity? Perhaps a bit of both.

I suppose if one enjoys the process of desperately trying to prove one's self as a writer then all is well and good but it looks exhausting and so time-consuming and far, far less glamorous than beavering away in dusty poverty as writers once did, hoping eventually to be discovered.

Perhaps I am a cynic. After decades in journalism and the media I look at how excited people get about having something 'published' in a blog and think - 'it really does not mean that much.' Or rather, it means no more than having someone read what you have written on a site like this. Many of the literary blogs are 'friendfests' as is much of what passes for 'reviews' of one's work - it is in essence meaningless. But then no less or more meaningless than the blurbs which appear on the backs of books, raked up from co-operative acquaintances, colleagues or peers and posing as substantial positive when it is no more than propaganda.

Does any of it matter? Not really. A writer's life is largely solitary so however one finds support, communication, contact does not really matter. It is all a part of the modern way of writing and 'publishing' for those who are not considered marketable enough by the publishers who really count.

However, having said all that, modern technology has given us the opportunity to be read by at least one other person in a way which was rarely possible when writing ended up in drawers, cupboards and boxes under the bed.

But I would still practise caution for those who play the game; and it is a game! Blogs, whether personal or literary create the illusion that we are being seen, that our writing matters, that we are somehow published and there is some truth in that. But deep down, in the sullen socks of Self, we know it is not true.....


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