Fri May 3, 2013
I’ve been trying to articulate to myself why most writing on the internet leaves me feeling hollow - my own writing included. In doing so, I’ve had to look beyond the mechanics of writing. Certainly, good writers use words judiciously and move beyond pure grammatical correctness to craft a personal style and weave a sense of play into their prose. But what’s missing is a piece of the soul.
I don’t mean soul in the spiritual sense, although there is certainly a place for that in the literary ethos. When we say writing is “raw” and “uncensored”, I think we’re getting closer. To be raw is to be naked in a sense - to be vulnerable. To expose the human part of yourself is to invite criticism and also pain. I think - I know - most writers are afraid to do this, but we are all left bereft as a result. The top-ranking blogs today feed us with endless rumours and breaking news in a sparse journalistic style easily digested. But news junkies are never fully satiated. We joke at the sort of banality rampant in those “what I ate for lunch” tweets, but them tweet the same after we realize Twitter is too shallow a medium to do say much else. Thoughtful analysis is reserved for long-form magazine pieces, but even this art eschews the personality of the author.
Perhaps I am lamenting the demise of the personal blog. I think that is partly right. But I also hope that the internet will foster more creativity, rather than submit to the lowest common denominator. There is hope in sites like Medium and Wattpad, and I am also surprised in how insightful Quora can be. But I’m concerned at how top-heavy these sites are becoming, with well-established players being promoted to the top and simply publishing free content as a marketing ploy rather than a true attempt to connect with a readership.
I guess the question now is, can I become more real in my writing, and in doing so become a “better” writer? The truth is, I don’t know. To write is more of a struggle for writers than for anybody. And I struggle a lot. Maybe the only way to find out is to just keep putting one word in front of another.