- Writer of today compared to that of yesteryear
- Traits of the historical writer
- Quips on modern society
- A promise for more to come
Being a writer- prior to twenty years ago (give or take), it meant basically the same thing throughout the ages, creative spirit holed away somewhere, isolated, banging out page after page on a typewriter. I imagine Jack Kerouac sitting at an old wooden desk, not old in that classy antique sort of way, but old in that just plain old, beat-up, and forgotten by time sort of way, the luster gone, wood splitting and rough, the legs uneven and wobbly, the surface barely suitable for a family to eat at, years of abuse- but perfect for the true writer, for the artist who cares not for the luxuries or even sometimes the bare necessities in life, but rather is so laser focused on their craft that they will sit in a skid row motel, at an abused desk, eyes blurry from countless hours of straight typing, just being what they are. I pick Kerouac as he is an inspiration for me, a lighthouse that has guided me in my writing; but while the scenario may change from skid row motel, it is the same for the writers of history and legend- simplicity in their craft.
Artist, paper, pencil/pen/quill (you get it), typewriter, and whatever ambience/setting they need, mixed in with a little inspiration (the indulgences), and you have the skeleton of a writer’s life. Sprinkle in some poverty, heartache, struggles, pains, misery, with a sense of adventure, excitement, inspiration, and you have the perfect storm for so many of the writers that have etched their names in history’s library.
What is it all? Simple- it was simple. Life was simple, if not a challenge for the writer. The term starving artist is there for a reason. What made the memorable ones memorable and countless more that time has forgotten is singular focus- Writing. They wrote because that is who they were, and they shut out much of the rest of the world (unless it suited them to engage with the world for their writing).
So what is the writer’s life like today? There is no way to marginalize all the unique personalities and life paths that the pantheon of today’s writers have, yet I will (forgive). Today’s writer still has all the characteristics I described earlier, the simple mad crazy driven desire to do their art, a willingness at times to forgo anything else, and the need for the right setting, but with all of that (which was enough and often too much for writers of yesteryear) they have modern (last twenty years) society. The internet, social networking, self-publishing, celebrity obsession, technology entwined into EVERY component of life, and looking out- a world that would seem like science fiction and make a good many of the writers of yesterday shed a tear for humanity.
How pure and how true it must have been to have been the writers of a long gone era, just to write and experience life. Thoreau never had to worry about how many Twitter followers he had, whether he should self-publish or not; he never overthought about a photo he was taking and what filter to use before it went up on Instagram. Critique today comes from the anonymous, the obscure, the virtual masses so quick to destroy your passions with hateful words spewed out over a laptop’s keyboard.
There is a lot of greatness, exposure, possibilities and new mediums that come with this modern age (more for another post), I acknowledge that- but for today, for right now, I am on the idea of the writer’s life as it exist in its simplest form- one individual- writing. Modern benefits aside, one cannot deny that the scope of the writer, the need to stay connected, and the overexposure at times, has taken away from much of the simplicity that has always been at the core of being a writer.
Leather bound journal and pencil have been replaced by laptop, tablet, smart phone, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc…and for many, that is pure bliss, exactly what they want, what they need. But there are throwbacks out there. The writers who prefer to stay low-tech, carry paper and pen as they stomp throughout the world in search of their next inspiration- Thoreau at Walden pond, Kerouac at Big Sur. It is for those that I write.
As I said, there is much more to be said for the modern era of writing, and I will, just not right now. For now, I am going to pack up the computer, turn off the music, not obsess over Twitter or Facebook- for now I am going to disconnect and go out into the world. I encourage you to do the same.
- I generalize and romanticize the writer, but it was different, simpler before
- The modern day writer must be plugged into social networking, the media, the age of technology
- While this is a godsend for many modern writers today, there are throwback writers (old-school)
- This topic could be written about for hours and days, endless in its length of discussion. This is a snippet, a quick thought burst from one modern day writer.
I will do a companion (part 2) piece that highlights the benefits of the modern era. Stay tuned…