26 April 2013

Delving Into Dreams of Publication

While catching up on reading others’ blogs, I came across an insightful article in by Rob Stroud in  Mere Inklings, a site inspired by the storied Oxford writing circle which included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.  The “Anticipation of Publication” piece considered the advent of the internet has inspired samizat cyber publications of works which might have been pre-emptively dismissed by traditional publishers as well as materials not ready for prime time which “the afore-insulted editors would formerly have protected the world from.”  

Stroud’s essay  examines the sense of victory which a writer feels on spreading his work. But keeping true to Mere Inklings, he quotes a C.S. Lewis letter to his close friend Arthur Greeve’s upon the publication of Lewis’s first book of poetry:

So at last dreams come to pass and I have sat in the sanctum of a publisher discussing my own book (Notice the hideous vulgarity of success already growing in me). Yet—though it is very pleasant—you will understand me when I say that it has not the utter romance which the promise of it had a year ago. Once a dream has become a fact I suppose it loses something. This isn’t affectation: we long and long for a thing and when it comes it turns out to be just a pleasant incident, very much like others.

This cautionary humbling from Lewis caused me to contemplate why my blogging and writing is so meaningful to me. 

Since I have seriously started writing, my spouse will occasionally complain that she is a blog widow when I get in my writing bubble.  There are evenings when I am reminded that I do not have a deadline when I am trying to put a piece to bed.  I find writing a personally rewarding avocation which might augment vocational pursuits. Previously, my pastimes used to be playing strategy oriented computer games and watching television.  While I may watch some programs or play a game to unwind, writing gives me a means to channel my creative energy.

The compulsion about sharing thoughts about civics is deeply rooted in my character. I am inspired by Alexsandr Solzyhentsyn’s observation that “Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience from generation to generation.”  Although opining on current events risks being exposed to being wrong, it can serve as a compelling journal of a journey to the truth.  And as William Blake observed: “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

It is their loss that most people choose to be more concerned about the Kardashians and the ilk rather than educate themselves about things that will truly shape their lives.  Oscar Wilde noted: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”  I appreciate my writing as a conduit to living. But experience has shown that impact of ideas is not always indicated in site statistics. 

[L] Miguel de Unanumo
In Miguel de Unamuno’s novel “La Tia Tula” (1921), the protagonist proclaims that there are three ways to change the world: 1) plant a tree 2) write a book or 3) raise a child.  Rather than just grumble about the way things ought to be, I see writing for websites as a means to change the world, even in a small way.

Some people have offered kind words about my writing skill, which I deeply appreciate.  But without the Internet, trying to get my  style of commenting on public policy (which has a short shelf life) published on a freelance basis would be a Sisyphean pursuit.  Moreover,   I know that my metier is composing a 700 word essay.  That style tends to be too long for our byte sized information age.  As Nathaniel Hawthorn quipped “Easy reading is hard writing.”  Thus writing and blogging is a way to get my ideas across to the public, but one sometimes wonders if there is anybody out there.

By delving into blogging I needed to augment other nascent abilities, like graphic design, video production, animation and publicity. These skill sets are immediately applicable but should also be utilized in other pursuits in “the real world.”  It also taps into inchoate interests, such as aphorisms, art and animation, which had been dormant or previously underutilized. 

While publishing on the internet diminishes the electric charge of seeing your handiwork in print, there still can be surprising instances of elation.  I still revel in a public policy scrum on another blog when the professional cited my own research to me unknowingly.  Or when covering an event, a person rushes across a quasi-basilica to ask about an article that I had published but mere hours beforehand. 

Still, writing is in its nature a solitary pursuit in which one can question what impact is being made.  Emily Dickenson lived a reclusive life whose oeuvres were virtually unknown during her lifetime.  The specter of being perpetually obscure can be humbling.  Although the internet does distribute publications to the world, but it is a question of whether anything breaks through the alluvia of information.  

Jules Renard joked that: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”  It is unclear if my endeavors will prove to be financially lucrative, but considering how much personal wealth from writing in being alive, striving to impact the world, creating something lasting and tapping into my associated other skills makes the effort seem worthwhile to me. 

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