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Andrew North is actually acclaimed author Andre Norton
Technology has made it possible to amass so much history and data and the information keeps piling up everyday. It kind of makes most of our own writing efforts seem insignificant as it melts into the accumulation that is already out there. Who will remember most of today's best sellers 200 years from now let alone some of the smaller print run books and publications. Do we mostly write in vain?
This was the comment I left on one of Hilary Melton-Butcher's wonderfully diverse posts at Positive letters....inspirational stories. She was discussing the topic of Project Gutenberg and the process of preserving the written word throughout history. Her post made me contemplate not just all of the writing that has been preserved for posterity throughout history, but more specifically all of the writing that has been preserved in print and in digital formats in my lifetime.
Hilary challenged me to write a post on the topic And now, as many are deeply absorbed with NaNo novels and other writing endeavors including our blogs, I thought this might be a good time to address this question. Not that I mean to bring anyone down or anything like that, but it's something that I'm sure many of us think about. What's the point of all this writing that we do?
Many of us work hard at the writing we produce, and often with little to show for it in the form of any remuneration. Sure, the pats on the back and encouraging words from others are good for our egos, but those don't pay the bills. I realize life is more than money, but most of us need the money to survive. And the "will write for food" scenario might keep you fed, but quality of life might be lacking if meals were all you got in exchange for your words.
Don't get me wrong. This is not a gripe piece; it's a piece of reality as I see it. There are a lot of writers out there producing work in many forms. Most of them are barely noticed when you put it in the perspective of the big picture. Most books, no matter how good they are, when compared to a book on the best seller list are not read by many.
Even the books that make it to the best seller lists will probably fade into obscurity for the most part as the years go by. Think of the best sellers of one hundred years. Oh, you can't think of any? If you look at the Publisher's Weekly list for 1910 I rather doubt you'll find anything you've read let alone heard of. What about Mary Roberts Rinehart who had two books in the top ten that year? Who's she?
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|Mary Roberts Rinehart|
Let's face it. There are a lot of books out there just like there are a lot of blogs. I can't remember most of what I wrote a year ago let alone expecting anyone else to remember it. If I read something it usually becomes a matter of who wrote what when? It's like when all the ping pong balls would fall on Captain Kangaroo's head. "Captain who?" some of the younger readers might ask. See--that's what I'm saying. Eventually later generations forget what came before because they have new cultural icons that resonate with them.
So do I think our writing is mostly done in vain? I like to write so from that standpoint my answer is no. If someone reads something I've written and gets some enjoyment or education out of it then my answer is no. If I make some money off of something I've written then I'd have to answer a big no.
I can't worry about what people will think of me one hundred years or more in the future. It would be nice to be remembered and thought of as someone who created memorable work, but that isn't going to help me now. In the grander scheme of things perhaps our writing is in vain. But does it really matter?
What do you think? Is your writing mostly in vain? Would you rather make a good living at what you do now and be consigned to the back pages of history? Or would you prefer the status of struggling artist who gains fame after you are dead and gone?
Something I failed to mention on my blog is that I have a short story that appears in the e-book anthology On the Brink...Volume 2 which was released in October by Spectacle Publishing Media Group. The e-book is available from Smashwords or Amazon.
Be here at Tossing It Out this coming Wednesday November 16th when my special guest is Lani Diane Rich, best selling author of nine novels including three that were NaNo novels. Lani is noted for being the first unpublished author to have a NaNo novel published as a result of her efforts in 2003. She will be offering some words of advice to the current NaNo participants and writers in general. Don't miss this visit. It's a good one.