The digital revolution didn’t open the gates to the many being prospective content providers – it tore the things down. There are still barriers to becoming serious sources of information, insight or even entertainment, but the avenues through which anyone can begin down that path are for more accessible as they were years ago. There is no longer a need for an inspector at the door, making sure that everything that gets past can only do so with approval.
I can’t believe I used the phrase digital revolution. Yes, I feel icky.
There are more content producers amongst the public now, even taking the size of the population into account, than at any time in our history. No, that’s not backed up with a fact or statistic because that’s yesterday’s thinking. Today is about the gut feel, unless you’re writing about the quality of something, in which case you damned well better have some unassailable objective fact that speaks to the subjective experience.
I’ve heard it in person – that if you want to take your writing seriously, you better have studied it. Or you better be paid for it or you’re automatically terrible. Or if you’ve just slapped together a site of your own, no matter the hosting style, it’s probably trash.
You might think that you know where I’m going with this, but if you’re a long-time follower of the blog, you know I’m very supportive of as many people as possible creating. Even if you suck, I want you to make things. I want you to have that moment of joy because a thing that never existed before popped out of your head, onto a page or canvas or video or tape or yes, even blog or youtube channel.
The act is somehow humbling, many times feeling like it’s not our own minds that we draw them from, but an eternal wellspring of imagination that exists just beyond the places we can see.
I don’t think we need barriers. We should definitely be helping each other get better at what we create, and the only reason this blog exists is because I believe that. Trust me, if this was about my personal brand or increasing my audience, there’d be a hell of a lot more skin plastered everywhere. (no, not mine – you really don’t want that).
Thing is, it’s hard to escape the stigma that comes with bypassing a barrier that others had to get past.
NaNoWriMo gets it. Self-published books get it. I’m not saying doing those things is a mark of good quality, but neither is doing them an indicator of bad quality. It’s fantastic that there are people who have had the opportunity to do writing courses, study literature at university, travel the world on writing escapes. I’ve been lucky in that I was able to buy a lot of books on writing when I was younger as I had a steady job. Yes, it kind of ties into the real writer thing again, but there’s something more than that which is bugging me.
So many stories of people who made it in one way or another sound as though there wasn’t something that happened which got them there. I’ve had the same sorts of things happen to me, though it’s brought me no closer to thinking I deserve any of it.
I had this problem when I was more in with the writing circles. NaNoWriMo was known, the blog got some attention in 2014, but as far as being amongst the authors, hah. There are times when I’m sure what little sphere of influence I’m allowed in other areas is really some peculiar twist of fate that’s mostly allowed because they’re letting the new guy play at being a writer person.
It’s better than it was the first time I went to an event, but when it comes to trying to shuffle schedules around a full-time day-job that doesn’t budge, the boat of those the professionals see as pretenders is overflowing and on the verge of capsizing. That goes all the way back to my first big SWF, and though my focus has changed, the problem hasn’t disappeared.
I’m constantly challenging myself on whether or not I should have any part of it, or whether I should be slinking off to be the master of this blog and nothing more. Not belonging is terrible, but this here isn’t garbage. If this is what a blog is, what it can be, as trashy and awful as the label might be to some… then I will learn to be okay with being trash.
But then, isn’t everybody to someone?