Julia Smillie wonders if technology and blogging has doomed writers.
1. Mediocre writing always had a following, even though it didn’t transcend eras.
2. Good writing still sells and IS read, while bad writing sells and sits.
3. When I first started trying to get published in the 1980s, I read The Writer and Writer’s Digest religiously. Almost every issue contained at least one column or article that said this exact same thing. Then it was the word processor that imposed too much entropy on the craft. My guess is that, were I to dig into archives of writing mags, I’d find an entire history of this problem. I’ll bet some great, old critic like Chesterton wrote about the problem a hundred years ago when labor laws limiting the length of work weeks freed up the drabble to — Oh, my God — WRITE! Like US!
4. Every time a writer produces what he thinks is a masterpiece only to earn an editor’s “Thank you for your submission, but we are currently concentrating on another genre,” note back in his SASE, he thinks technology, society, education (or lack there of), selfishness, stupidity, or a combination of all have undone the fine old craft of writing.
5. I have a hunch, based on my perusal of lit mag web sites, that the surest way to get into print is to decry the low state of literacy in America that prevents serious, good, educated, MFA writers who owe Stephen King’s advance to Sallie Mae from earning a living as a writer. James Michner (sp?), both popular and excellent, said 30 years ago, “A writer can make a fortune in American–but not a living.”