Friday, December 10, 2010

What the Internet has done for Writers

Obscurity. It is the nemesis of all scribblers. You want to be heard. You want someone to register that all those hours you have deposited in the bank account of art and dreams and vision and cracking the universe will matter. Does a tree fall in the forest if no one hears it? That is our horror, that you write for no one. That all those strange looks and mutterings about Jim or Stephanie or John wasting their time in their room in their office in the attic in the storage room have been vouchsafed as fact and their tombstone is a testament to the naysayers who will finish with a single epigram: they were just  kind of strange.

And it was a one in a million shot to be heard beyond friends family and neighbors who read your prose and smiled condescendingly, murmuring, well, it's sort of depressing. Depressing! Depressing! We are talking about the human condition, love, death, sex...Life! Oh, well, I just found it depressing, but that's just my opinion. Back to the writers group, back to the closet. Morons Morons. Bourgeois morons! They do not understand what I am doing and all I get back are rejection letters from my one conduit; New York City. We are sorry, it just doesn't fit out needs. Another publisher may feel different. Hundreds of those. The boxes of manuscripts in the basement grow and grow and you cannot get your heart and soul out to one damn person! Then came that silly network the defence department had built, the Internet.

Suddenly the stranglehold on publishing was broken. Just like that. The great wall of indifference that turned away ninety five percent of all writers had been tunneled under with a piece of fiber optic cable. Ethernet bound, your prose shot out into a blogosphere and voila! Published! Instantly! And you got instant credible feedback because it was no one you knew. The writers group had just gone global and anyone anywhere in the world could give you their two cents. But here is what really happened, the Internet validated millions of writers because they found an audience, the world.

So now a writer no longer toils in isolation. Before my first novel was published I had been writing for seven years with no portal for my work. Just grunting it out in storage rooms, apartments, basements, with no one but some trapped people in a writers group to give me feedback. And of course my girlfriend, then wife. Poor baby. But now you will read these words, and yes, I am a novelist, but more than that, I am a writer hacking it out every day. And I am heard.

Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove