Tina Fey, who I think is enormously talented and for whom I have a lot of respect, disappointed me with this quote on the Today Show:
There has been a great deal of quarreling and infighting in the writing world in regards to what makes a "real writer" and if people who self-publish, blog, micro-blog, tweet, Tumblr, or use other internet platforms can call themselves writers or...what? Internet hacks? Fools who write for free when there are "real writers" who get the almighty dollar for their work?
I don't (I TRY not to, that is) get into infighting on the web, mostly because I was a terribly shy and awkward kid in school and I cry very easily. Confrontation is not one of my strong points. Getting opinions across using the written word, however, IS a strong suit of mine. Sure I don't have an editor or a proofreader, and sometimes my grammar isn't perfect, or I misspell a word from time to time, and no, I don't get paid to write. I do it because I love it. I do it because I NEED to do it or my head will explode. It's part of me, the words that come out of my mind, rush down my nerve endings, electrify my fingers and end up on the page, or screen, or cocktail napkin, or whatever medium happens to be at the ready. I'm a writer. It's what I do.
Sure, you can have tweets that look like this:
Is that art? No, it's an easy, self-deprecating joke, and, like many tweets, a little snippet about my day. However, there are also tweets that look like this:
A little more poetry there, and still on Twitter, home of the "what I had for lunch" argument (that inane, meaningless tripe no one cares about is the only stuff on Twitter). It's a platform for words, and that platform can be used for good or evil, for inane bollocks or heart-wrenching confessional poetry. It just has to be in 140 characters or less. Brevity, I'm told, is the soul of wit, after all.
We are so fortunate, as writers, and readers, to live in a world wherein one's voice can be heard by millions even when we can't (or won't) make a sound. It's the abject beauty of the written word, it's freedom of speech, it's freedom, period. I live in a cage created by my own mind, but when I write, I am not barricaded in my apartment, imprisoned by my own fucked up brain chemistry. My words are out there, my heart and soul are out there, and sure, sometimes I'll get emotionally hit by a truck by someone who thinks I'm a hack, or a whiny self-indulgent asshole, or just a nobody, but that is outweighed a million times by a simple "I understand" or "I feel that way too" or "I thought I was the only one". That is, if I'm lucky. Most times, my words fade into the ether, as well they should. Even though I can go days on end without audibly speaking a word, I do have a tendency to ramble.
Words are power. Words are poetry. Words are beauty. So is free will, and the magic that is creativity. We all have it in some way shape or form. And if you or I want to use that power, poetry and magic in 140 characters on Twitter, or on a blog, or spraypainted on the side of a building, we should DO IT. It's all art, in the end.
Tina Fey? I'm sorry you have such a negative opinion of Twitter. You obviously haven't met the incredible people I have been lucky enough to meet through that particular platform. I'm terribly blessed to have them.
I'm lucky enough to not consider writing "work." Sure, I write for other sites, and those are gigs and all, and of course I take writing seriously (when the occasion calls for it) but I write because I love it. When I was a singer, I didn't get paid to belt out showtunes in the shower, but I still did that every day. Because I LOVED it. And even if I WAS making money off of my written words, I'd still blog, and Twitter, and use Tumblr and even Facebook status updates. Because I love the words. I love writing.
If it was just work, I'd probably quit.