500th post ~ some introspection, some retrospection but mostly peering into the future

 

I don’t always do a good job of celebrating. It doesn’t come naturally to me, in many ways. You’re talking to someone who is always braced for impact, expecting the worst and not anticipating the best. I mark my birthday as much to please others as myself, but as the years go by I find some pleasure in having survived another year. I also mark my blog-i-versary, though unlike many, I don’t throw a party at reaching certain numbers of hits. How many visitors I get here is not really anything to crow about; however large or small that number, it is no credit or otherwise to me. It’s not something I have myself achieved.

But today, I do wish to mark something that I feel deserves a big pat on the back.

This is my 500th post here at Zen and the Art of Tightrope-walking. That’s 500 posts in just over 2 years, made up of multifarious topics. Short stories, poems, photos, anecdotes, travel writing, articles on dozens of subjects often related to mental health, creativity, philosophy and spirituality and many other issues.

Many blogs never make it past their first year, or fizzle out after a few posts. I have no idea why; this is variable in cause. It may even depend why a person started a blog in the first place. Writers are encouraged now to use social media to build a platform; I had no idea of this when I started. I still don’t; the only platform I’d like to build is one in a nice big tree and then build my tree-house so all my friends can come and play. I guess that’s what this blog has become. I have made a lot of friends along the way, met a few psychos (you know who you are) and have found a side to myself that I’d been concealing.

That’s the side that is just beginning to stand up and challenge the status quo around the creative arts. You see, I am watching the way the world is changing and am astonished that there is so little vision. The digital revolution means that anyone can now publish a book, and make it available online. So what happens but people focus on doing things exactly the same as they have always been done by traditional publishers? Why is no one asking “What is a book? Why does it have to be the same form?” I hear the same stuff about editing and rewriting and polishing. I don’t mean I don’t want writers to work at their stuff, but are we focusing so much on presenting work that conforms to an accepted FORM because no one has woken to the thought that actually, we may be able to discard many of the forms because they came about to fit paper.

We take it for granted that a book conforms to certain preconceived ideas of what a book is, when many of those ideas have come about because of the physical constraints of a paper book. Length, too is something that has reduced because of shorter attentions spans and a desire for a less leisurely pace. Reading some Dickens’ lately I became aware of quite how different the pace of his novels was. The conventions of fiction are just that: conventions. They persist because the readers demand them: happy endings, resolutions of difficulties by the final pages, main characters that the reader relates to.

What if we could sweep away all the conventions and experiment a bit? Write stories where it ends without resolution, like real life? Or where the reader can suggest endings or choose them? What about turning things on their head and having a villain who becomes a hero, or a heroine who turns into a villainess?

I can hear people shaking their heads and saying, yes, but that’s not what readers want. No, it’s what publishers tell you that people don’t want. Do you know people who’d read something that challenged them, or pushed them out of their comfort zone? I do. There’s not vast numbers of them; it’s hardly a mass market, but then I gave up on the idea of being a best seller a long while ago. That’s about as probable as winning the Lottery.

Why do we insist on aspiring to BIG numbers all the time? Why are Indie authors always being told they’ll never sell many books? Is selling books the WHOLE reason why writers write? Is perhaps the pressure to tailor your writing to a market or a genre or even to the ideas of an editor or agent a thing that might be curtailing your personal exploration of YOUR voice, YOUR stories, YOUR art? Where would they go without that pressure? (I am aware that there are plenty of people who write for a living and whose freedom is curtailed by the need to sell and pay the bills; I am not one of them. Once I would have liked to have been; not sure of that any more at all)

Art, whether it is visual or literary or musical or whatever, is a living thing that thrives on experimentation and exploration. The digital age is offering all of us the most mind-blowing scope for experiment and exploring. You could do anything. ANYTHING. The possibilities are beyond anything we have so far encountered.

All you need is imagination and a bit of daring to take that step forward and just try.

When I began this blog, I really had no idea really what a blog was, but as a part of a pact with myself I set out to say YES to more things I’d once have said no to, and 500 posts later, I find myself here, on the edge of a new world where anything might happen.

Would you like to come along for the ride and help make things happen, for you and for me and for everyone who has ever aspired to be a creator? Or would you prefer to stick with what you already know, what others tell you works and stay within your comfort zone?

The combination of internet, digital publishing and the explosion of social media is a combination as revolution every bit as dynamic and frightening as the advent of the printing press, the postal service and the arrival of cinema all rolled into one. The medium of The Book could change utterly, evolve into a new animal.

I simply don’t know where all this may lead. But don’t let the men in grey limit the possibilities by chaining it all down to profit and loss and catering to the masses and to the mediocre and the humdrum.

Let’s be daring and take flight. My wings are itching to explore new skies and new horizons.

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10 thoughts on “500th post ~ some introspection, some retrospection but mostly peering into the future

  1. Nowadays I mostly listen to books. The audiobook has become affordable because of the invention of the mp3 file that means that you no longer have to buy as many as 20 CDs in order to listen to an unabridged book. Of course, the audiobook industry is dominated by the big publishers as much as the print industry. But there are alternatives out there made possible by new technology. I am particularly impressed by those writers who read their own works and make them available to all, merely asking for a donation from those who can afford it. This is not for every writer as you are not going to make a living from it very easily but it is a viable and imaginative option for those writers who write for other reasons than just making money.

    I am particularly grateful to the folks at The Gutenberg Press and similar sites who have made it possible for everyone to access classic, out of copyright, literature, both in text and audio form completely free. And hat tip to the Kindle folk at Amazon who, whilst obviously running a commercial concern have included all this free literature in its library. Their decision will have been based on sound commercial thinking and proves that the established industry can not only live with the new ways of making literature available but can profit from partnerships with it.

    Congrats on your 500th. post, Our Viv. Forgive me for not being surprised at your success.

    • Thank you Jonathan.
      I keep thinking that people will wake up to the thought that there are greater possibilities than ever before to express their inner world so creatively. Why does everyone chase the classic book, with traditonal publisher?
      You’ve obviously cottoned on to the ideas inherent in the new media. I would think about issuing audi versions of my own books, but a) I have poor techie skills and b) I have a rather tedious voice!!
      I am becoming a fan of the Gutenburg press myself.
      xx

    • I doubt it. I wish I knew some famous actor with a glorious voice like chocolate being poured over ice cream.
      I’ve been working on some meditations using fragrances and someone has suggsted I record them and post them on youtube, but same issues apply.

  2. Can I join on the tree-house party?
    I’m enjoying indie publishing, and I’m not aiming for big numbers. But that’s because my day-job is counting money I don’t even like! 😉
    Glad to see you’re still here, still blogging, when so many are gone… we’ll still be here next year and the next! 😀

    • ‘course you can Barb!! It’d be a delight to see you.
      I don’t believe that bigger is automatically better, nor do I believe that quantity is ever preferable to quality, but I suspect not everyone agrees.
      hey ho, a small select group can change the world when the masses are just sheep!

  3. Congratulations Viv on your 500 posts & I’ll certainly raise a glass for you from across the ocean. I love your thoughts in this blog. I dreamt this week that I lived in a cramped, ugly, airless caravan park, but I was the only one who questioned why we were all living this way. I found a young child locked in a cupboard and his mother told me he always played in there, because it was safe. Your words about the possibilities writing and new technology bring us remind me of this dream – and inspire me to push outside those comfort zones that holds me captive. Funnily, I wrote a blog this week about the down-side of technology, but you’ve challenged my thoughts. Thanks for that. 🙂

    • I shall have to make sure I read your post, Kerry. I’ve been swamped by work after a drought and have been barely keeping my head above water. Now I have some time off at the same time as my husband for a change and am looking forward to it.
      I’m not a massive fan of technology for its own sake but it holds more potential than people are yet using it for. It’s also being used to supercede things that are actually still ok; example, the US spending millions developing a pen that writes in the vaccum of space while the Russians just decided to use a pencil!
      THanks for your support and your comments here; I truly appreciate them.
      xx

  4. Yeay Viv! Congrats on breaking through the big 5-0-0!

    My numbers are a looong way behind you with three months past my first blogiversary. Obviously I’m not trying to break any records.

    I need to Google Gutenberg and see what I’m missing. I just learned about QR Code blocks tonight. Maybe this will be a way to market ebooks: http://www.dansl.net/blog/?p=256.

    People can just take their cameras on their telephones, scan the little block and it will give them all the info about that item. EG – on ads for houses for sale, concert posters, tour brochures.

    We could put our whole book on a little QR Code! It’s just a matter of posting the block in strategic places – externally as well as on the internet. We could have a QR Code on our blogs.

    • I shall let you explore this one Amy. There are so many things that might be possible; it’s just a matter of imagining them
      I suspect your hits are higher though than mine. I try not to worry about numbers but some people do. Numbers are neccessary but not magical.
      Thanks for the congrats.
      Feeling horribly low at the moment, so kind words are indeed like honey.

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