Thursday, May 28, 2009

Online Publishing for Hacks?

March of the Illiterati in E Flat

May 27, 2009

Written by Karen D. Swim

Original article is HERE.

Two weeks ago, my Grandmother retired her old school TV Antenna for a digital converter box. If the FCC had not mandated that the US switch to digital on June 12th, my Gran would have kept using the rabbit ears.

In the world of early adopters one might say my Gran is a no bloomer. Yet, her diehard dedication to “rabbit ears” is not unlike those who hopelessly cling to the notion that social media is worthless and digital media is solely for the illiterati.

In a recent conversation with an erudite writer, I listened to what has become a familiar litany:

People who publish on the internet are not real writers. I am a noted journalist/writer/editor and accustomed to spending 6 weeks, writing 15 drafts before publishing.

My crowd is very literate and will not possibly be on Twitter. ( I pull up Twitter screen) Oh, look there’s Bill /Jane/ Buffy, they’re on Twiter?

I do not have time to waste engaging in urbane conversations with plebian strangers.

Internet publishing is for hacks.

Overlooking the fact that I had just been called a moronic hack who spends time on inane platforms talking to a motely bunch of idiots, I patiently explained this new world that has “killed newspapers” and made superstars out of the unknown. I politely declined to point out that a truly impressive insult would have described “my people” as having brains as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.

Alas, we no longer use insults such as: “Away!, Thou art poison to my blood.” Yet, in spite of the evolution of the English language we have managed to make amazing discoveries, and advances. Who’da thunk it? (See what fun online writing can be?)

Those who view online writing as a dumbing down of provocative thoughts and ideas are missing the point entirely. It is an expansion of creative thought, discussion and collective collaboration. While other forms of publishing aim to “talk at” digital publishers “talk to.” It’s the sharing and exchange of ideas and information in real time.

Literature, and great writing are not dying, we are simply evolving in the way we communicate. Many will hold on until the bitter end, until change has steamrolled over them leaving no other choice but the truly erudite will not only embrace the change but lead the way.

What do you think? Are we diminishing the art of writing with online publishing?

My Reply:

I’m an illustrator as my day job. I draw pictures. Do I have a problem with the millions of people on Deviantart, Flickr or who have themselves published via online zine or small press?

Not At ALL.
I can’t stand “gatekeepers” who feel they have some privilege of doing what they do; whether art, writing or basket weaving.

I see it that I nave absolutely NO right to tell anyone what they can or can’t do. I can however encourage people to do what they love…whatever that is. Please…show off your stuff! Get critiques, Improve! Keep doing it every day.

Does this in any way cheapen the work of a creative? Not one bit. Actually it’s the bunghole gatekeepers who ruin it for many.

Honestly, what is the difference between published writer/ artist/ basket weaver and the home published zine person? Honestly, I give less than a damn whether you’re published or not. That doesn’t mean you’re any good. It means absolutely nothing. There’s tons of really GOOD folks out there who aren’t published or are diamonds in the rough who should be ENCOURAGED and included instead of derided as “pft, unpublished” and excluded.

1. Who gives anyone the right to deride or dismiss anyone?
2. What is the difference between published and unpublished creatives?

Seriously…I think there is a sliding scale of skill and everyone is on the road (or should be) of improvement, regardless of whether or how something is put out for the world to see.

Honestly my own scale is dependent on skill, effort, natural talent and people who are willing to learn, listen as well as be frank about what they do. Let the work speak for itself and leave the ego at the door.

“Being Published” is largely a matter of “right place and right time” multiplied by “who you know”, plus an ounce of ability, a little bit of luck, and often a lot of hustling. Note that “skill” is the smallest factor here.


Louis Porter Jr. said...

Amen and well said.

Karen Swim, Words For Hire said...

Thanks so much for sharing the post and your insight with your audience. Leaving the ego at the door is great advice. I imagine that there will always be those that feel the need to protect the status quo, but history validates the walls eventually crumble. It is far better to embrace change and lead the way than to attempt to guard the gates with fiery sticks.