Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Death Of Craft

There seems to be a lot of hand wringing and grief over the end of publishing in its traditional form. If you doubt you had a stake in it to begin with, it becomes easier to embrace the changes. I still don’t quite know what any of this means to me as a writer, but I’m worrying a lot less about what will come of it. And I’m glad to see that the book will never die. Maybe this should be considered the beginnings of a renaissance.

That writers can’t/won’t any longer make money from their work is considered inevitable. Journalism is becoming devalued. An untenable practice. The gist of this scenario is the fear that one’s work will become too easily copied, or reproduced (read: stolen) or worse still, evaporated into digital ether.

Rather than fret with Y2K type doomsaying, I’d rather see concern about craft. Until someone wants to read the work, fears of a plagiaristic public or “the end of cultural civilization” is off the radar.

I can see the day where craft might seem like it is no longer relevant. Is it wrong to say the writing is on the wall? (insert favorite mobile technology here.) There’s just too many voices clamoring to be heard (and voices here is as much the bloggorhea, the instant message which strains to be relevant). I trust I’m not alone in the dogged pursuit of craft. Even as much as the blog has an instantaneous thrill, I still insist thoughts committed to paper gestate before they appear here.

For all the immediacy of technology, the presumed benefit it offers an unheard of writer, I still avoid most of the technology whose expediency is largely useless to me. Had I had this technology available to me fifteen or twenty years ago, I think I would have been less wary, but I’m more interested in saying something useful or enlightening, rather than just chattering away on any old subject. I imagine that’s the case for a lot of writers who consider writing an art form.

On the optimistic side, the clamor is bolstered by the directives that getting published has become so commonplace as to be considered “easy.” But it’s not that easy. Not if you are trying to place your work where it might actually be read.

The all consuming needs of technology seemingly make it easier for more people to have a voice. The proliferation of voices implies there are more voices that want to be heard, and thus less with anything to say, or at least, less with any distinction. To which my immediate concern is an Orwellian death of craft. But the practice of writing has not been rolled under the bus. The tools of technology should not be imagined to have usurped craft.

I'll continue to be concerned with relevance, and craft. Relevance is in trying to get to truth, and to say what’s important. Being able to say that because it’s important to me, I trust it might also be for someone willing to read me.

Maybe this is the future, right here.

1 comment:

  1. I think, yes, adamantly, not just maybe, it's always the future, right here, since the seeds of any future are gestating in our every now, and we needn't despair—quality (craft, meaning, necessity) will always be a force that quickens the hearts of just enough of us to survive.

    You've written elsewhere (under the guises of dreams): "I've failed to get the word out" and "I will not stop"—and though I've yanked these out of context, I'm glad seven follows six and that you won't stop, even when "the journey only becomes more difficult."