Writing, and making money doing it, is much easier in the 21st century than in the past, I think, and I blame the internet. It makes sense though, web sites need constant new content to bring in readers (traffic) and there are millions who are willing to provide it. But I also think that it’s still just as hard to “make it” as an author as it’s always been.
I’ve lived to see four decades so far (Nixon was president when I was born) and can easily remember a time before the silicon revolution. My earliest writings were either all done by hand or on a non-electronic ribbon typewriter. My first attempts at publication were done the hard and long way – by mailing my short stories out to magazines, crossing my fingers and hoping someone would publish it. A cold sell, if you will.
The world has changed since computers have become a common household appliance. Anyone can be a writer. There are many websites that offer free services to anyone who wants to create their own website. There are also many digital self-publishing outlets that will allow you to create e-reader friendly versions of your short stories, novels – what have you.
If anyone can do it, has becoming a published author lost it’s prestige?
The short answer is an emphatic, “No.”
Think about it. While the dynamics of publishing have changed, one thing remains the same – there aren’t a whole lot of people that are good at writing. Sure, there are people out there right now, blogging away and working on a book, that may never have done so 20 years ago, but are doing it now because the internet has made it easy. Some of them may be very good writers and an even smaller few will get the recognition they deserve. But it’s a handful.
As an internet writer, I have found myself brought into a community of other internet writers. Some are good, some are not so good. And, as anybody would, I tend to follow and read those people whose writing I like and not those people whose writing I find inferior. There are so many blogs that I visit only once, never to return, because I’ve either found the material or quality of writing just plain offensive. Writers that I read regularly I rarely leave comments for because I tend to get to them late and others have said all I wanted to say in their comments.
What I think I see being a part of the blogging/online writing community is this: All of the people that publishing houses would have rejected make up the bulk of this community. And you know what? I may be one of those people. I don’t know. I do know all of my short stories have been rejected by the magazines I sent them to and I can count on two hands the number of people who actually like my work. (Granted, my blog doesn’t have much exposure so the two hands thing doesn’t really mean that much.)
So, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? The good from the bad? Judging by the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, I don’t think we can. (Let’s face it - pornography aside, the writing in those books is horrible.)
And this post is going absolutely nowhere now. I’ve had iTunes blaring The Hatters and just got lost in the past three songs and my whole train of thought just up and went away.
You probably have the jist of where I was headed with this. ‘Cause, well, I don’t.
[This, by the way, is what happens to me Every. Damn. Day. I love music and as much as it helps my writing, it also hinders it. I'm just not gonna come back to this piece, because, frankly ... Bored now.]