Writing: My Craft, Enlivened

We are truly living in a brave new world. Today, I was reminded that no generation has ever seen such a vast proliferation of talent. Even just 20 years ago, countless writers, artists, designers, storytellers, musicians, and songwriters had few outlets for their craft. However, that has changed, and changed drastically.

This morning, I had the opportunity to hear Jon, of the popular Stuff Christians Like blog, give his thoughts on open and honest writing and communication. He reminded me that yesterday’s bloggers only wrote in journals; yesterday’s musicians only played in their basements; yesterday’s artists only drew in their private art pads. Today, it’s a different story. Today, the internet has provided a global platform for every man, woman, and child to express any ounce of creativity that God has put at their disposal. And that’s awesome.

We are living in a creative renaissance in which everyone starts on a level playing field. Jon’s blog went from zero to a quarter million readers within a few months. Aspiring writers are shucking the constraints of traditional publishers and producing their own books through print-on-demand services like LuLu (and thereby making more money per book, I might add). Musicians are releasing original tracks digitally on MySpace and Facebook and personal websites. A new wave of talking heads is crashing the shores of iTunes through podcasting. The floodgates to the creative reservoir have swung wide open, and we’re swimming in the overflow of once-silent talent.

For me, blogging has become my own voice in the world. I have been writing professionally for eight years. In that time, I’ve had to “speak to the audience” of whatever publication I was writing for. In my ministry writing, my primary audience is older adults. That doesn’t provide a ripe field for the delicious¬† and occasionally bitter sarcasm that often flows so freely from my pen when I’m writing for myself. Here, I can forsake the constraints of “proper voice” and just talk. Like me. The way I talk inside the safety of my head. Sentence fragments and all.

Is every blogger, indy musician, or YouTube sensation worth my time? No. Heck no. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? The point is that someone, somewhere is exercising his voice, his beautiful, unique voice. The voice God gave him. The talent he was born with. The gift that he’s never had a chance to share with anyone. Until now.

I’ll be honest. Speaking as a professional writer and editor, this is creating some problems. I’ll deal with those tomorrow in a potentially snobby, likely indulgent counter-post to this one. For today, however, I’m relishing in the fact that I’m one voice among many. Yes, we are indeed living in a brave new creative world. And your voice is welcome.

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6 Responses to Writing: My Craft, Enlivened

  1. Brent says:

    IMHO, the “playing field” has always been level. The creative reservoir has always been there. There isn’t a “creative renaissance” going on. The guys in the basement cranking out barre chords who were good found a way to get found/signed. The painters, the great ones, rose to the top. The ballplayers made the team. The writers got published. The movie makers got funding. You name it.

    The difference is simply that now you can get a web page.

    But all I see is average bands that now get a platform to be heard. They’re still average. Bad writers are still bad writers. Lousy painters now just have a web site instead of a canvas leaning against their studio wall.

    In other words, the creative world is just the exact same as it’s always been. Equally brave. Equally creative. Now it’s just more public. Frankly, I think I liked it better without having to get a MySpace bulletin sent to my box from my next door neighbor’s kid’s band and getting exposed to run-of-the-mill. I liked it when you had to earn your stripes to get heard.

    Spoken by one who has been cranking out bad blog posts for five years now…so take it for what it’s worth.

  2. Allen says:

    Fear not. Tonight’s blog post will give a counter argument that explains why the growing public platforms for writers is creating a nightmare for those of us who write and edit professionally. Having to actually HIRE writers is one of the most irritating, drawn-out, frustrating, nail-biting, clothes-wrenching, hair-pulling-out experiences of my professional life. Why? Because “everyone” is a writer. Except they’re not.

    “Enlivened” shows my hopeful optimism. Tonight’s “Endangered” shows my dreadful cynicism.

  3. Allen says:

    I will disagree with you, however, at least in reference to publishing. After watching the world of print media through books and magazines for several years, I’m amazed that anything ever gets published. I’m more amazed at the amount of outstanding material that is overlooked, contrasted by the piles of garbage that are green-lit. Traditional print media has become less about talent and more driven by marketing. And, with the advent of new media, publishing houses are becoming less and less relevant.

  4. […] decided then that I wouldn’t publish it, but I believe it provides a valuable counterpoint to yesterday’s post. Before writing me off as a shameless snob for this post, make sure you read the preceding one, […]

  5. Brent says:

    No question about marketing driving the industry (hey, I read what passes for youth ministry curriculum these days)…but I’d suggest it has always been thus, and always thus will be.

    And, I have a friend in the publishing industry who says that if the Kindle ever really catches on, publishing as we know it changes forever. Much like music has with iPods and such…

  6. uninvoked says:

    The internet is a new platform, and like all platforms it can be used and abused by those who have access to it. If you really think about it, getting an agent is no different. The agent spies a bright pink envelope with “GOD OF THE UNIVERSE! PUBLISH ME!” on it, and knows without looking at what’s inside he will not want to take that work on. He can probably guess that this person will reply to his rejection letter with a nasty, sneering accusation of the agent not knowing what real talent looks like.

    The only difference is…we all get to look at that pink envelope now. Its not filtered anymore.

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