by Kenneth Harper Finton ©2015
It is said that writers “write to be read.” Then painters paint to be seen, actors act to impress and singers sing to be heard. If this is the case–and most often it is–the newer writers of the world are setting themselves up for great disappointment. They will not find the audience that they did on the past. They will not achieve the fame that others did in the past. They will quite likely not enjoy the riches that others have had In the past. Technology and world Internet communications have obviously changed the world.
Though it has democratized the ability to be read and seen and heard, by doing so it has practically eliminated the institutions that originally supported and brought culture to the world. Some vestiges of the old system remain, but they are losing ground with each passing year. They have been replaced by myriads of smaller, more democratized platforms that do not pay, do not develop and do not guide.
Moguls still control what is printed and sold in local stores. They chose the music that is allowed to be bought at box stores, the movies that are shown and the art that is displayed in museums and fine art shows. The competition for such space is fierce. The rewards to the artists have been drastically reduced from that it was just thirty years ago. This leaves the would-be writer with a great dilemma. They feel that they have talent and should pursue an audience and readership, but the audience is slimmer and the finger of fate even more fickle than ever.
Only by applying a talent is the talent polished and sharpened. “Practice,” it is said, “makes perfect.”
Perfection, though, is a subjective judgment that should be left out of that axiom. Practice makes us more exceptional. It is a fact, though, that natural talents of all kinds need to be performed and utilized to get beyond the level of the commonplace. Writers now write blogs to keep their talents active and polished, but the readers of blogs are also a fickle lot. The individual blog does not really reach a substantial audience. Blogs and personal journals are worthy tools for a writer, as they can refer to them in the future, draw on them for ideas, and reference them for later promotion.
There are few, if any, works that cannot be made better by multiple rewrites. So coming back to what you did before is quite valuable for the future. Professional writing has not totally become extinct, but it is nearing that vanishing point. Professional writers are not free to write as their muse moves them, but are pressured to write what their superiors believe their readership wants to read. Even with access to statistics that determine what people are choosing to read, the writer is often no longer free to follow their muse and write from the heart if they want to increase their following.
Yet, writing from the heart and being true to your own voice is the only possible way to beat the odds. Only that will make you stand out in a crowd. Even if you write from the heart, your heart and voice must be very special, very unique and quite original. Your perceived persona must be likable, strong and quite different from the masses. The vast majority of us will never be that person. Chloe Thurlow recently spoke of “the time before smart phones made the whole world a banal image and the photographer like the editor became a dinosaur.” https://www.facebook.com/chloe.thurlow.5?fref=ts
We have a changing dictum. As writers, we must write for ourselves to be original. We will probably never make any financial profit from these efforts. Few in history ever have. We may not even achieve any large readership no matter how hard we try. Everyone has an opinion to share, a broken heart to express, a love that they feel they must share with the world about. All lives are novels in the making. The only thing we can do is persist or quit.
Of course, if we quit, we never will have an audience. If we want an audience or a readership, our only alternative is to persist. To persist means to continue through depression and despair. It means we need to develop tools to combat and dispel our negative feelings. To persist means to struggle with the reality that we spend too much time doing things that we do not love in order to do what we do love. It is easier to be a baker or a cook or a carpenter. All such work is creative, but the requirement of pleasing more than a few is not essential in many occupations.
Artists always had to pay their dues. The fees are even higher these days. Inflation, you know.