It’s no secret that I have very little patience with those litbloggers who bash out something like a review a day. This is reading? Sure, go ahead and race through a racy novel, but remember that, like the best sex, the best prose is meant to last the longest.

Colin Robinson on the state of publishing:

Perhaps the problem has to do with more than just the way in which words are transmitted. People bowl alone, shop online, abandon cinemas for DVDs, and chat to each other electronically rather than go to a bar. In an increasingly self-centred society a premium is placed on being heard rather than listening, being seen rather than watching, and on being read rather than reading.

And unfortunately, an awful lot of writers seem to be more interested in being read (and published) than in the long – very long – apprenticeship of writing. To those of you who publish online, I say: stop counting those hits. They mean nothing.

Signpost: Frank Wilson, who is exactly right about discernment – though not just in publishing. Litbloggers please take note.


4 thoughts on “Being read rather than reading

  1. Lee 15 years ago

    Hi, Bob. I agree with you wholeheartedly about striving for excellence.

  2. Bob Collins 15 years ago

    The good thing about writing is that you do not have to make money from it. You can always work a job for money, like Kafka, no matter how depressing that is.

    Or me, on the other hand, who runs drugs and turns tricks. There’s more than one way to make a living.

    I say strive for excellence. Your writing may never be compatible with the marketplace, but striving for excellence is its own reward.

  3. Lee 15 years ago

    Chris, I have no idea what sort of art really matters. To whom?

    What I do matters to me; the rest I’ll leave to those who are apparently better in the know.

    And so far, I’m still eating. Which of course doesn’t make me Shakespeare, but it doesn’t have to.

  4. Chris Poirier 15 years ago

    It’s a pretty idea, this work for its own sake. But perhaps a little reality should intrude: even Shakespeare wrote in the vernacular of his time, and his primary concern was producing something that would draw in the crowds — because, without them, he and his company weren’t going to eat.

    Art is a great thing — but perhaps the art that matters is the art that touches real people, where they are, now.