Making it Matter—P4

6 steps to creating something that matters:

Create carefully: This is the internet age, the time that means you can write something, and less than 5 minutes later, publicize it so that anyone in the world can see it.This may seem like a dream come true to the masses, but is it really? It used to be a rigorous process to publish (and not only in the writing sense) anything at all. You couldn’t record music in your home, you didn’t just walk into the museum and hang your painting on the wall next to Van Gogh’s (of course you can’t do that today either), you couldn’t bind together pages by hand, call them a book, and start selling it to the entire country. The standards were high. Creating took time, patience, and lots of hard work. Getting published by a publishing house meant months of revisions, discussion, communication, and sometimes scrapping your entire piece and starting over (this is a great article about that process with someone famous.).

Now, getting published is as easy as making something and posting it for the world to see—and before long, you’re a sensation. The standards seem to be considerably lower now; but are they really?

Years ago, consuming art was a commitment. If you wanted to read a book, you had to buy it from a bookstore, or at the very least, request it from the library. Sometimes you had to wait, while they ordered it and it came in. In almost every case, there were less books (pun *relatively* intended), making the ones that you did acquire highly valuable. Getting a book was like finding an oasis in the desert.

Now, the commitment level for art intake is minimal, at most. I have access to most books or articles (or as many other written works as you can think of) on my computer. I can read them whenever I want, pull them up and comment on them, expressing my opinions. It is instant gratification, instant satisfaction. I don’t have to wait for anything—if I want a hard copy of a book, Amazon will ship it to me, guaranteed delivery in two days. I have whatever I want.

This may seem nice, but underneath the cream cheese frosting, the carrot cake has a bitter twist. The old fashioned high standards were set by experts in the field, as they moderated content and searched for good value. Now the standards are set by… Me. And you. And your uncle, and my neighbor, and the man who cleans the gum off the sidewalk. We decide what we want (we always did that), we decide if it’s good or not (we always did that), and we decide that it’s not worth it to keep reading (we didn’t exactly always do that). People used to read books even if they weren’t the best, because it was all they could get their hands on. Now, we can get our hands on whatever we want. There is no limit to the literature that we can access, and so if we don’t like you, or we think someone else wrote a better book about it, we’re done with you. We have rocketed the standards to out of the atmosphere, because in becoming more eclectic, and having access to whatever we want, we’ve become literary snobs.

So create carefully; make your writing good, make it the best. Do your research, your homework, edit carefully, ask intelligent opinions and experts in the field. Because we’re a tough crowd to please, and we want the best. And if you don’t deliver, we’re clicking the next link we see, and moving on.

 

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