Writerly Mystique Vs. Self-Exposure: Mind The Gap

Image - iStockphoto: badmanproduction
Image – iStockphoto: badmanproduction

‘About My Generation’

When the teacher comes around asking, “How did you spend your weekend?” my answer will be…responding to comments at Writer Unboxed.

As a regular contributor to that large, avidly commented-upon authors’ site, I provide columns under the branding “Provocations in Publishing.” The idea of that phrase is to help the unprepared reader of my work handle my critical tone. Porter Pan Flies Again! I’ve got to stop wearing green tights. But I always appreciate the chance to name my harsh realities for the gentle souls of the Writer Unboxed community.

My latest fearful pronouncements lie, smoldering, in this piece, The Gate We Should Have Kept: And Was Mystique That Bad? The main message of this particular sermon on the dismount of publishing from its pedestal — here in the depths of the digital depression — is that we are in danger of seeing some of our best writers lose the mystique that has, in the past, been a part of their and other artists’ presence in the world.

Carla Douglas
Carla Douglas

Having dodged bullets all weekend on this, I’ll just use a few of those projectiles to step you quickly through what I was on about:

  • While writing once was an intensely solitary career, it is today (as our colleague the editor Carla Douglas has said) perhaps the most social of all.
  • It’s social because social media have made it possible for authors to be in touch with each other and with readers, right from those lonely desks, at every moment, day and night.
  • Where once there was little to no community for an author beyond, perhaps, one’s faculty fellows at a university, writers today cling to each other in vast online herds, exchanging chucks on the chin because “writing is so hard,” you know.
  • I believe that this heaving rush to community and the pressure from marketing and publicity sectors to promote oneself online prompt authors to expose enormous amounts of banal info about their daily lives. I don’t care what they had for lunch, which child has a cold, or when the dry cleaning will be ready. Do you?
  • And I think there’s a price here: the more our authors trot out their personal trivia for all to see, the more they risk losing any hope of that marvelous, difficult, ineffable thing — mystique. They become “normal.”
Writer Unboxed’s readers are among the most eager and eloquent commentors out there. It was a big discussion. And in the course of the back-and-forth (sometimes more back than forth), the authorLancelot Schaubert launched a very long but interesting comment in which he seems to ascribe a great deal of social-media self-exposure to a generational distinction.

He went right for it: “Hey Porter, interesting thoughts about my generation.”

In fact, I hadn’t really been thinking about his generation, not that I don’t deeply love each and every one of them. The closest I’d come, I think, was mentioning the odd YouTube personality who might get a book deal from time to time, with great hosannas in the industry — as if there are enough mega-followed beauty-and-fashion YouTubers to save publishing.

And the fact that I started in one direction and Schaubert took us in another is why it’s worth looking at this.

‘Supremely Disappointed With The World’

Schaubert is an avid spokesman for “my generation,” pretty much running for class president.

I’m not sure the home crowd is as unified on things as he seems to think, but that’s his problem, not mine.

Lance Schaubert
Lance Schaubert

He was born, he tells us, in 1987, which classifies him as, maybe, a mature Millennial?

He has an interest in innovative forms, as you can see in this information about his “photonovel,” Cold Brew.

And he runs an online book club you can look into if you’d like. At Writer Unboxed, he arrives to tell us:

We need hope, my generation, real hope – not some political slogan – because we’re supremely disappointed with the world we’ve been born into and we’ve heard rumors of a better world, one that’s past and one that’s yet to come.

  Read More

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Writerly Mystique Vs. Self-Exposure: Mind The Gap

Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com



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