Some time back I turned some of my late night musings into a book (update: done). Knowing they are inconsequential in the great scheme of things and wouldn’t interest a publishing company, I self-publishing the book. When I ask myself why, I come up with different reasons. Perhaps it’s because I want to leave behind something more permanent, more tangible than just memories. Maybe I am secretly hoping it becomes a widely read (and purchased) book. Or maybe it’s just vanity – a subject I wrote about some time back.
Whatever the reason and regardless of outcome, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to talk to others who have or are in the process of publishing a book. It was with all these thoughts in mind that one day I saw a poster in our library inviting writers to join OWL (Ormond Writers League), a local group of writers. So I attended a meeting, and in doing so, I learned I am not alone. OWL is a group of about 25 – 30 writers – some published, some not – who get together a few times a month to critique each other’s writings as well as to share experiences and advice.
As I sat there listening to the discussion, my mind wandered a bit. It became very obvious that I was not alone in this writing business, regardless of purpose. I am but one grain of sand on an expansive beach of writings. Even more distressing, I’m not even among that top layer of grains on that sandy beach. That thought led my wandering mind to a few related thoughts. Looking back over history it is obvious that there have been great transformations in world of writing. Going back just a few thousand years, this world consisted of a few scribes using parchment to records facts and ideas for the select few who could read and afford the medium. Then with the invention of the Gutenberg press, the printed word became more widespread. I guess the next watershed moment came with typewriters and carbon paper, and the Linotype. The written word was now common.
Now we are witnessing and are part of the next watershed moment in the history of mankind and the written word. It is the world of the computer and the internet. Not only does the written world flourish – we seem to be drowning in a sea of the written world. For in this day and age, there are so many outlets for writers. Books are published and self-published, newspapers abound, internet web sites add outlets for the written word – they range from offshoots of newspapers, to informational sites, to blogs such as this, to commentary often added to whatever is offered on the internet.
But all this seems to come at a price. There seems to be an inverse relationship between quality and quantity in writing. The more words there are, the more who participate in writing, the less the overall quality of what is written and published. No place is this more evident than in comments appended to articles and columns on newspapers’ web sites. The invectiveness at times is overwhelming. It feels as if we have opened Pandora’s Box and have unleashed an acidic rain of words upon mankind. Not all technological breakthroughs are progress.
But, be that as it may, I am undaunted for this is my contribution to the glut, and there are a few other musing I have yet to add.