Wednesday, March 13, 2013

you're right, mr. keillor. you're right.

Recently, I read an article by Garrison Keillor entitled, When everyone's a writer, no one is. I love Mr. Keillor. My mother used to listen to him when I was little, so that means I listened to him when I was little. He is funny and smart and his voice is comforting. Well, I read this article by him the other day. You can read it here. The article takes a hard look at the writing world layering today's reality with yesterday's nostalgia. After I read it, I was kind of sad and inspired all at once.

You see, before I could even read, I loved words. I pored over books and magazines longing to unlock the mystery of letters. And, after I learned to form those letters into words, the world opened, and books and pen and paper became friends. I scribbled down stories. I labored over words. I dreamed of one day writing a book, pictured my name on the binding. I read and watched Little Women and felt Jo was me -- apart from the whole time period thing. Point is, I wanted to be a writer.

Now, times are different. So different. Writing is not mysterious anymore. I'm not anti-self publishing, but I will say this new world of harem-scarum writing is kind of scary. I haven't been doing the social media thing lately because, if I'm being honest, the peddling gets old. Everyone's selling something even if it's their own image, and it wears me down.

In this brave new world, anyone can hit publish and be a self-crowned author, and it's odd really. Strange Harold down the block can publish a manifesto on why he thinks peanuts are evil and BAM! An author is born. I won't pretend there aren't fantastic self-published authors out there. And I do think the good will rise to the top regardless of publishing origin, but this new world has taken the allure out of writing for me.

I read Garrison Keillor's words:

Children, I am an author who used to type a book manuscript on a manual typewriter. Yes, I did. And mailed it to a New York publisher in a big manila envelope with actual postage stamps on it. And kept a carbon copy for myself. I waited for a month or so and then got an acceptance letter in the mail. It was typed on paper. They offered to pay me a large sum of money. I read it over and over and ran up and down the rows of corn whooping. It was beautiful, the Old Era. I'm sorry you missed it.

Then, I realize, I've got to get back to that place, the one where words matter more than images and tweets and status updates. I have to hide away when necessary to preserve the energy I do have so it can be spent on writing that matters to me, on writing that will matter to more than those who will scratch my back only if I scratch theirs. Yes, I'm going back to the words, people, and my unadulterated love of them. I'm hoping some of you out there might be willing to join me.

Does the new writing world inspire you, or do you find yourself wishing for a manual typewriter tucked in a cabin somewhere far, far away?

25 comments:

  1. we've been frightened into believing that relevance, permanence, and incessancy are all somehow related, that we have to be always writing, always sharing what we're writing, and always talking about how we're sharing what we're writing.

    what if we summoned the courage to just write the words and stories that mattered most to us? what if we completely ignored the call to build our platforms and answered to call to share our journeys, tell our tales?

    thanks for being bold and brave enough to sound the alarm, as it were... - s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to get over the fear of doing it wrong, but I know so much of this system is broken. I believe that. Thanks for your support ;)

      Delete
  2. there is something to the freedom that anyone can write...does not make it good writing for sure...but everyone has an opinion and now they have a medium to give it...oh boy...smiles....but as many find out and get frustrated is that not everyone is buying...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a good point about the buying, and I do believe good writers can't be held back by publishing. Eventually, they'll rise above. At least, I hope so :)

      Delete
  3. I have much to say on this topic, but I need to make dinner.

    Therefore, I will say, give the the typewriter and the cabin! And liquid paper. I need liquid paper strips.

    I will be back after the dishes are finished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liquid paper! So reminds me of 6th grade typing class. What was our teacher's name again? I can see her face and glasses and hair perfectly :)

      Delete
    2. Seriously, these things I cannot remember. How do you?

      But I do remember have each key covered up by a little label. Think of how long it must have taken that woman to cover all the typewriter keys in the class.

      Geesh!

      Delete
  4. Hear! Hear! Love this Lori. And I am with you. I'm not a writer since birth, but I do love words and I do love pouring myself into them. Thanks for the reminder that it isn't about who knows about my words . . . be it few or many.

    X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep writing, Mary! I believe in you :)

      Delete
  5. As someone who is not a unprofessionally trained writer, I love the democratization of internet publishing. I no longer have to jump through hoops to be seen by a select few publishers in the hopes that I'll noticed. And for what, to be published in paper form? How long can that last?

    The trick with the internet is standing out among the millions of websites. There's no substitute for writing a lot, trying to entertain an audience, and being generous in comment and praise of your peers.

    No, I don't see it as self-promotion, any more than I see it as one writer trying to encourage another writer. Yes, please write your stories and share them, and don't throw your literary baby out with the online bathwater. Online is just another tool to get your ideas into my head... that's all.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely support all forms of publishing, but sometimes it seems like writers spend so much of their time supporting other writers. There has to be a balance, or else we're all just buying each other's works and supporting one another. It has to be about the reader, too, and I don't really know how to make that happen. Thanks for your input :)

      Delete
  6. I vote for the typewriter and the cabin. Nature is much more inspiring anyway...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you wish it were that easy? I'd be in a cabin, too!

      Delete
    2. Laura Groves wants to talk publishing. Yes she does.

      Delete
  7. Found you through Amy Sullivan. I grew up with Garrison Keillor as well, so I value his opinion - he feels like a distant great uncle or something to me. I haven't read the article (yet) but I sat through a social media branding meeting yesterday for work, so all these old world/new world thoughts are fresh. Where is the balance between writing and the social peddling/branding? How can I ever find the time to write if I'm fluttering between social media sites all day? How can I live my life and have something to write about if I'm always glued to this laptop? It makes me long for the typewriter and the cabin, I'll be honest.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It honestly exhausts me, and I don't know if I'm just hardwired differently than so many of the social media experts out there moving from site to site. For me, I can't keep up with it all and still be productive as a writer. And I'm starting to think it's not all or nothing. I'm hoping so. Thanks for reading!

      Delete
    2. Finding the balance between social medial peddling and writing...I hear you, Courtney.

      I read this really beautiful piece written in SUN magazine recently (you can check out some of the articles for free online). Anyway, I was like, YES! This is writing. I bet this author isn't tweeting or sharing this article. I bet he wrote it with the idea of creating art and not creating followers.

      Delete
  8. Such a thought provoking piece. It makes me think back to the first "writing" I did on a very old black typewriter with a true inked ribbon. If you didn't hit the keys just right my tiny fingers would fall between keys. I wrote a newspaper for the neighborhood but was too scared to give it out to anyone by my parents. When I started a blog it felt overwhelming until I heard the words, write what matters. I have facebook but it's not connected to the blog and I gave up twitter after a couple weeks. Write what matters (and how ever often I am inspired) and the rest is moot. Published or not Lori, you are a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mindy, I LOVE that your blog is not connected to Facebook and that you gave up twitter. It gives me hope. For real! I may just have to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for sharing and for the encouragement :)

      Delete
    2. Ohhh, look. Mindy is chiming it. Huh. Must be because ohhhhhh, yes. You are on to something.

      What's next week's post.

      Not even kidding.

      Start writing it. We need it.

      Delete
  9. Lori, this is so good. I very much admire people like you (and Amy) who write for the love of writing. Who write because you love words. I hope you know that love is a gift and not everyone has it. And that gift comes through in what you write. It matters and makes a difference. Whether you get published or not. Glad I stopped by.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Lori,

    Yes, this self-publishing wave certainly takes lets people skip some of the necessary editing and extended revising that needs to take place...

    I'm a sucker for a print book too any day. The scent of a crisp book, the sensation of it in my hands, the ability to underline or write into the margins.

    It's nice to stop in here again, Lori, and to see what's on your mind. :)

    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was so good. I am in the same boat as you, overwhelmed by it all. I really love the comment your husband left too (that was your husband, right)? :) Your post encouraged me to get back to the heart of writing, not to get caught up in the marketing and business of it all. It is probably very similar to the music business, you think?

    ReplyDelete
  12. after reading so I liked this article. successful yes

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Lori,

    Just stopping by to say hi again, and to say keep on writing. I checked out four books from the library on writing this week, and am reading them to learn and be inspired anew.

    Have a great week.
    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

    ReplyDelete