The only thing tougher than being a writer sometimes, is being a reader. I’ve had the chance to read some blogs, articles, poems and the like and find those to be pretty well done and in some cases, writing far better than my own. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore books and reading, but the last 10 years have made me really sadden and depressed when it comes to the novel, primarily.
In no period of human history, short of the 1800s until about the invention of the television set, has the novel been the primary form of a person’s love and adoration, baring the few of us who really enjoy it, to the point our rooms look like Belle’s Library in Beauty and the Beast. The irony here is the amount of people who want to write one at some point in their lives far outnumbers the amount of readers.
It doesn’t take much to find books in today’s day and age, but the amount isn’t the problem, it’s the prose that is and with that, I am depressed, because with so many more options, there could be so much better writing.
I don’t pretend to be the William Shakespeare of my generation, only with a modicum of luck and ingenuity, I may be able to make such beautiful works myself. That said, I still think most of what is floating around out there is rubbish. It makes it hard as a reviewer sometimes to find things that I would love to write about, when every other book is a 50 Shades of Gray.
I look at The New York Times bestsellers list and I still see a lot of the same authors adorning it as when I was a child. I’m a 32 year old man, in 6 months I shall be 33. While 33 years on this planet may not be the longest amount of time to have lived, it is long enough to know that it is a problem when I can only come across the same authors, some who have been writing longer than I have been on this planet, on The New York Times bestsellers and wonder why these are the only authors I can come across. When it isn’t the same author’s, sometimes it’s their children. Is there no one new?
Not a single person on that list doesn’t deserve their success, they merited it, but I can’t help but think of how much that success is partly owned to gauging the work by the amount of money it makes as opposed to the prose. Don’t even get me started on the awards, I don’t believe for a second an award has any meaning anymore. Game of Thrones has a Nebula award, I shit you not. How does something like this happen? Do reviewers not even know how to do their jobs anymore? There once was a time when the critic meant something, they were people who understood their niche in reviewing. They understood beautiful prose and exquisite story telling. Now everyone is a critic, but not a good one. Critics remind me of the age old adage about everyone having a novel in them and in most cases, that is where it should stay, except replace novel with criticism. Being a critic is no longer for the sake of intellectualizing about books anymore, but serves only to exist for one more asshole to attach Stephen King, George R.R.Martin, Ann Rice, J.K. Rowling, Vince Flynn, James Patterson, Dean Kootz, Joe Hill or some other more successful writer than they are for SEO and chase that $0.01 blimp from drawing someone into their blog. It works too! I don’t blame people for doing this, it is human nature, looking to capitalize and make money, but we’re people are struggling over pennies, when most of you couldn’t even be bothered to bend down on the street to pick one up. Irony is when not even 10 years ago, the government seriously considered phasing out the penny, but when the same object is digital, it is gold!
Writing is hardly the only spectrum to be hit with this, one look at the trends on Youtube and we can see a generic no name rapper attacking a well-established star to get themselves over with the crowd.
The new age where anyone can now go out and do whatever they wanted hasn’t helped much to alleviate this at all. Now there is so many more options, but who am I going to read? You have to do so much more footwork now a day, because an award is as meaningless as doing household chores, critics have no fucking clue what they’re talking about, they just want to be blow hards for the sake of being blow hards, your average fan with no special knowledge of writing doesn’t know shit from shinola, but they know what they like and with any typical fan they will gush about you from here to Alaska without missing a beat, because of how you made them feel.
I know having guardians that can decide to can and cannot publish isn’t a great thing for most people, because they too, are all about marketability when it comes to books and each year, we lose out on amazing potential authors who deserved to have their book published, but when the opposite end of the spectrum offers the same set up, are creators and consumers really winning? Is there no happy medium where we can concentrate on beautiful prose and still have the occasional 50 Shades of Gray, instead of attempts to rank in Google searches, monetization, attack artist you once enjoyed, boycott things, frivolously on Twitter, because they threaten you, not because you actually believe in the bullshit you espouse? Just to get that pittance of money? I don’t think so, and to quote Bill Hick’s, “All my heroes are dead!” I’m glad too, because I couldn’t imagine how I might feel if they were alive and doing this shit!
I’m not free of absolution here, I am just as complicit as anyone, because of my desire to write and communicate my thoughts so they can be understood from a wide audience and you do not have to have a Ph.D to understand my writing. I sold out, a long time ago and I don’t know if I am better or worse off for it.
After reading Dracula the other night and coming away from it, feeling as I did when I was a kid, just discovering books for the first time, I had this epiphany. It wasn’t even just the book that inspired this piece, it is partially brewing for a while, because of critic’s ineptitude and then there is the fact Twitter has also allowed me to see deeper than any other social media. Looking at random accounts, some with blue check marks, and not for real world success. There are people who have fans, just for being fans. What the fuck is wrong with this world? 20k followers just for enjoying things. Meanwhile, I watch people who have actually worked in Hollywood, with fewer followers than your random blogger and have to wonder to myself, what the fuck! Who would want to write and especially well, when your fans will end up with a better following just for loving you?
I don’t profess to have all the answers in regards to this, but I do know, I don’t like this new world, one that is championing mediocrity and promoting idiocrasy. Up until now, I wasn’t like a lot of people with nostalgia for the past, because I don’t miss it. I do miss discovering good lit though and that, if anything, is what truly has be nostalgic. I defer to Kylo Ren when he said “Let the past die, it’s the only way to become what you were truly meant to be.” Couldn’t that be at a higher plane than we are now, though?
Slight edits to text 14 OCT 2018 9:29 AM