I have been thinking lately about the changes in the world. Not the big ones, unless you count the Computer Age. I mean all the incremental changes that add up over time to change the way we work, live and view our every day lives in this world. These are the changes that make the world a more open and more independent place, and at the same time, it makes some of the things we do, as creative people, a tad more challenging.
In the world where you are reading this – the online world of the Internet – we are walking the tightrope of the Wild West mentality and Big Brother is Watching YOU controlling interests. Okay, it’s not really a tightrope; it’s more like a wide avenue being roamed by a mix of cliques (just like in High School) and gangs of differing ideas and views. Perhaps the idea of the Great Melting Pot of the World is also more apt in this analogy.
However, the idea I am hopefully going to arrive at is this: We, in this world of the individual writer, photographer, artist, poet, etc., where we place our work out on Open Salon and other places, we find it’s completely up to us for that content, point of view, or look to it once released. This, my fellow unmet friends and readers, is where the digital rubber meets the virtual road of the Independent Entrepreneurial Spirit of which I speak.
You see there was a time, not so very long ago, where a writer wrote. That’s all they really did. Once that writing was committed to paper, the writer would send that manuscript out to a publisher. The publisher would get the manuscript and then send it to one of the underpaid, overworked genre editors in the Pit to read through it enough to determine if it might be worth publishing. If it was, then the editor would take the red pen out and start lining things out, through and make additions.
The editor, once the manuscript is spell and grammar checked, then sent out a request to the graphics department (or a whole new shop outside the company) for someone to design interior and exterior art, which went into the book or magazine. Once all that was done, someone else in another department took the work and laid it out, placed the parts where they look best, arranged the colors, hues and tones of the art, set the type around it and made it all look really good.
In the intervening period of time since then and the arrival of Internet and all the software to write, make pictures, create graphics, make cool moving things across the pages and banner ads, the writing (and artistic) world has changed markedly for the writers and artists. So, for us, the independent movers and shakers who wish and hope to become, out here somewhere on the avenue of Wild West World, we have to compete in an open marketplace of ideas – by ourselves. The support network of old really isn’t fully there. This means instead of being only a writer, an artist, a poet or a journalist, we are also all the other roles that are required of us to get to print.
This is empowering and frightening at the same time. The empowering part is that we are able to just put it out there without having to wait for some pompous ass in a brick and mortar building to decide if we are worthy of their time. We get to choose the timing and manner of our presentation to the public. The frightening part is that, for better or worse, it is entirely up to us to succeed or fail in that endeavor – irrespective of our native talent for the actual productive output inside the packaging.
I am in the enviable position, according to some of my Real Life friends, of being brave enough to commit to the world the phrase, “Hey you! I’m a writer, read me!” Brave, because, win or lose, I did it. I took that chance.
Honestly, I am scared out of my mind at times when I’m, ‘putting it out there.’ I fear that it will fall on deaf ears or that – even worse – someone will take the time to really rake me over the coals and eviscerate what little chutzpah I have left to continue to, ‘put it out there,’ at all. This could become my nightmare, but I don’t allow that to stop me. I can’t stop writing, so I might as well share it.
Maybe, come to think of it, that does make me brave. It’s brave, because I am so anxious and scared at times when the words are posted in digital ink, and yet post them I do. It also requires me to be a lot more assiduous about my efforts. There is no editor waiting in the wings with a red pen and speed dial with my number to call me and let me know when the draft is ready. It’s all up to me. This is the challenge, isn’t it?
So when you consider your efforts and you are, like me, twisted up with anxiety, excitement, hope, fear and the penultimate joy of knowing you’re doing what you’re meant to do, then recognize that no matter how well you consider your efforts, you’re going to get better at it as long as you keep at it. If I can, I’ll read and comment on your stuff and I hope you do the same for me. We are the editors, publishers, layout artists, galley slaves and the writers, artists, poets, photographers that populate this wide avenue known by a former President as the Pipes that information comes through called the Internets. If nothing else we all spell better and talk better than that guy. And, unlike our former President, we’re just going to keep getting better at it.
Even though it’s all on you now, keep at it. Even though you think you’re not that great, or that you don’t have an audience, don’t give up. You never really know if you’re interesting to someone else until you make the leap from idea to posting. So stick with it and get back to work on your efforts. We need more copy!