Saturday, October 03, 2009

Writing in a Glass Box

Writing isn't the solitary activity it used to be. The same technology that has turned much of the human race into square-eyed troglydites huddled in their darkened lairs staring at moving images on their Playstation, Wii or PC screens and eschewing actual human contact, has, paradoxically, paved the way for 24/7 virtual contact. And increasingly, this contact comes bundled with feedback, whether we want it or not.

Our blogs, our Facebook pages, our Flickr photos, even our Tweets are subject to commentary by the virtual critics who hide behind screen names and are, quite likely, simply taking a momentary break from blogging, Facebooking, Flickring or Tweeting themselves. The proliferation of blog-to-book deals means that some of us--myself included--are writing books while several billion people look over our shoulders and, more often than not, offer helpful suggestions.

But is this a good thing? Shouldn't art be developed in isolation and left to percolate and evolve and discover itself before a cybersphere of self-appointed critics take a swipe at it? How would the great works of the past faired if subject to this sort of hyper-scrutiny?

GlobeMaster: Bill, sweetheart, I'm a big fan of your blog but methinks the latest entry is as cheery as a plague-pit. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time only to watch a play where everyone dies? Have Romeo run off with the Priest; you know they were made for each other.

TudorMan: Doth wenches snigger at thy codpiece? Click here for help.

NatH: Herman, A white whale? Hell-o! They don't exist! Check your Google-Analytics; I bet they're taking a huge dive. Your followers are not going to buy this, or your book.

GoodnessAndMercy: My Dear Miss Hill, I stumbled across your Facebook page quite by accident and I have to say I find the accounts of your "adventures" highly disturbing. I see you are friended with Madam Bovery, and I am hardly surprised. People like you need to be rooted out and exterminated; I have a stake and dried faggots ready for you, and I'll find out where you live eventually.

PratchettFan: JK, You will never create a fantasy world to rival Mr. Pratchett's. Your latest entry sounds like it was written for children. Why don't you try writing for some woman's magazines, instead?

CivilReenactor: Mr. Crane, I have studied with devotion your photologue of Private Henry Fleming and his experiences with the Union Army. However, your latest installment included a battle scene wherein a sergeant in the 1st Regiment Provisional Militia is clearly wearing the uniform of the 2nd Battalion St. Louis City Guard Infantry. Historical inaccuracies of this magnitude are unconscionable. In the future, I will limit myself to the exploits of Buck, as posted by J London; so far, he has never mislabeled a breed of dog.

ConnecticutYankee: Mark, your podcasts about the boy on the raft are great! You need to limit the dialects, however; I can hardly understand what some of the characters are saying.

@Schopenhauer: Leo, I appreciate your dedication and devotion to your work. I am also a big fan of your tweets, but don't you think it might be better to

@Schopenhauer: start a blog rather than trying to write a whole novel using nothing but Twitter posts? War And Peace has been going on for more than a yea

@Schopenhauer: r and a half now and, although I love following you, it is getting tiresome. Please, get a blog!

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