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?