Art Needs Time to Flower - Even in Cyberspace
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The speed of the internet has profoundly changed many (or most) people's perceptions of writing and publishing. It has affected our sense of TIME.
Everything is accelerated. If we can copy and paste a story or article and submit it via e-mail within a matter of minutes then is seems strange to still have to wait a few months for response. We've come to expect quick results in cyberspace.
It's easy to forget, as we're staring at computer-generated characters and interacting with an animated screen, that we're still sending our work out to another human being. That person has their own schedule, their own set of opinions and values when it comes to stories, articles, and poems...to sum it up, they have a life away from the computer. The internet is the medium, not the message.
Word processors has helped foster the illusion that anyone can be a writer. Who needs to learn spelling and grammar when the program can find and fix such errors? Again we have a distortion of our sense of time. Instead of building up our talent, and nurturing our ability over a long period of trial and error, we want to plow right in to that bestseller.
The reality is that creativity follows its own rhythms, a natural ebb and flow. The process by which a writer's life experience percolates inside and then bursts forth in a new form is something that can be forced only at great cost to the work.
Consider "The Lord of the Rings", the most influencial fantasy of the last century. J.R.R. Tolkien labored over that novel for twelve years. Readers nowadays might cry: "What a waste! Imagine what he could have done with modern technology!" when they hear that he spent an entire year simply hammering out a final typescript.
What is seldom pointed out, though, is that this more painstaking process allowed him to carefully consider EVERY WORD that he set down in type. And fifty years after their publication, those words still ring with power and wonder.
Perhaps its a blessing that he didn't have spell-check.
The bottom line for writers is this: technology in many ways HAS made our work easier. It's done away with some of the grind, so we can more fully devote our energy to the creative process. Now if we can only keep in mind that that process works according to its own timetable. Lets not try to force it to keep up with the speed of our machines.