What’s Happening to Our Writing?

When I was a kid, I never questioned the act of writing.

I wrote because I didn’t play an instrument, because I didn’t draw, didn’t paint, and didn’t sculpt.

Words were all I had to make sense of the world around me, and most of all, to understand a little bit better about myself.

That was my diary and poems period. Just for me.

Later I wrote short stories. Still for me.

Oh, and always in French.

Much, much later, I started to write in English when I realized that it was – at least, I hoped – a great way to learn the language – years in high school don’t count much, you find out when you move abroad.

I wrote for children because reading had opened my world and been my best friend when I was a shy, solitary little girl.

Manuscripts of all genres crowded a box, where I kept them, and later the files in my computer.

And I had lots of fun.

It is only when I started to submit my manuscripts that the goal of being published replaced – not entirely, but significantly – the excitement and joy I had so far only experienced.

In a way it was good – I thrived for better writing.

But I also focused too much on the “being published” goal. I thought of which editor might like this or that. Writing friends around me spoke of their agent, or of finding one, of this conference where such or such editor would come.

Writing for publication is a business.

When the publication industry – in a much slower way that the other industries – started to recognize, if not accept, the new communication tools people had at the tip of their fingers, I, and many writers, thought that a new era had begun.

And it had. All of us can now publish anything we wish without an agent or an editor – a copy editor is still a very good idea – and our writing can be read anywhere in a matter of seconds for a blog post and within a few days for an e-book and even a paperback.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the reflection around writing.

What is new, though, is that unknown writers, little-known writers, and well-known writers alike share now the same questions about the creative act of writing.

While I type my thoughts, my stories and everything in between, a few very kind people I know – they don’t write, smart ones – forward me articles about writing.

My husband is their master. I cannot – he knows it – read everything he sends to my inbox or print for me immediately.

But last night he forwarded me The Slow Death of the American Writer, written by Scott Turow, the president of the Authors Guild, and published in the New York Times. I found this article very relevant to our period of time and I’d like to pass it on to you.

I don’t think we should stop writing, though.

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