Trying to get attention as a writer is kind of miserable. It is thankless and often reader-less work. And in honor of the trouble writers go through everywhere, today we present to you the piece, “Why Good Writers Go Bad”.
As a writer, one fears not being accepted or being ridiculed by one’s writing. This, at it turns out, is a somewhat juvenile fear for a writer to have–why is this one might ask? Because little does one realize that apathy towards one is far, far more common. And rather than fearing, over time, that people will dislike one for his or her writing, the young writer becomes less and less certain of his or her voice and its connection to one’s time.
One is constantly beset by worries: is one’s thinking disjointed and erratic? Or are one’s thoughts simply beyond one’s pen’s ability to grasp? Or does one simply think and write on topics of exceeding irrelevance? Questions which might show insecurity of a private person, become necessities for a writer. If he speaks a language that only he knows, how will he reach people? How will he make the impact he first set out to make? As a first measure of a writer’s ability, it is the comments of one’s readers, and their reactions to one’s work which give a writer insight into himself. A writer craves people to read, criticize, and comment on his work–it is his life-blood, because it shows that he is “getting through” his medium to the eyes, ears, and hearts of readers–even when they disagree. Their viewing and commenting is what makes the endless staring at the ceiling and waiting for inspiration–or the proper turn of a word–worth it.
That said, sometimes a young writer cannot take the loneliness, and he turns to the dark-side of writing–pandering to the mass and using devilish tricks to deceive the unwary viewer into clicking on his work. Whether this viewer be procrastinating student, savvy cubicle worker, or just bored writer, the titles, images, and content of such pieces are made for him.
Such diversionary and “click-baiting” tactics include:
3) Scantily Clad Women (sometimes as a front for more serious issues)
6) Cat Videos
Writing on these gets a writer ATTENTION which ultimately gives a writer a sense of value–for the more people that a writer reaches, the more impact he or she has as a writer. As a writer, one is often tempted to devolve to these manners of tricks. After pouring one’s time, energy, emotion, SOUL into a piece, one publishes it and sits back. Perhaps one uses the restroom or makes a quick snack in the interim. But what was a soul-achingly personal and active practice becomes a jarringly passive battle of one’s own self-loathing vs. one’s better sense. One sits and refreshes the “statistics” over and over and over and over. Will anyone ever read this? Have you ever written a particularly meaningful Facebook post and taken gratification when one, two, or three likes appear? Imagine having done just that but multiply it by a thousand. The time between affirmations, or even just views, is endless.
So, one should not exactly look down on those writers who choose the popular path. It is the dark-side, provocative, and at least slightly more thrilling and glamorous in that people will actually read one–well, or click on your article, but there is also likely a certain emptiness to such writer’s feelings. Why? The point of having people read and like one’s writing is that they acknowledge that they see, feel, and think in a similar way to how one does. When one removes the “you” element from one’s writing, then one’s writing is flat, lifeless, and could just as well belong to anyone else. Think of any BuzzFeed article that you have ever seen. Anyone could write it. Is that not precisely its appeal? It is the Nietzschean abyss which stares right back into your soul.
The point of this essay is not to moralize. The author himself is guilty of falling for what is appropriately called “click-bait” frequently. Such information at one’s finger tips is absolutely intoxicating. The point, though, is to share a feeling, like all good writing does–to bridge a gap between people and to connect to others–one’s audience here in particular. Just keep in mind, when you do observe a scantily clad woman as the picture to an article which has nothing to do with the picture–know that that is calculated–frequently by a publisher, editor, or sometimes by a self-hating writer who wants something from you–not your connection, just your click.
There is a such a tremendous gap which separates each person from another person; we are not so nearly connected as we think that we are. As animals, perhaps, but as individual souls, no. One sees this as a writer–one feels this. The amount of effort a writer puts into his or her work, wishing to connect with another soul, is unimaginable. Recall your own efforts in school or university. Was not sitting down to write the most achingly painful experience you endured:
Does this sentence look right? How do I use a semi-colon? Is this how you use this word? It might make you feel squeamish just thinking about it. That is precisely the connection that a writer is looking for in his audience, and that is precisely what vapid and abysmal writing and fodder for googly eyes neglects. Even if you continue “to take the bait”, do so discerningly and with the knowledge that there are those who have truly sweated for what they have written–those who have attempted to connect through their art and media, and that they actually want you, as a person, to connect to their art, thoughts, feelings, and souls, not just as a “click”.
*Here at “The History of Western Thought” modern culture is just as fair-game as ancient culture, and the bridge between the two worlds–which is truly one world unus mundus–is the point of the whole endeavor. Rather than indulging in the seeming emptiness of clicks for the sake of advertising for the sake of selling for the sake of produce dividends, net profits, and gross margins (which are all very, very important), the point here is not to be above those considerations so much as to co-exist with them, but also to see them within their proper place and to value them correctly.The piece above is part of our new “Our Modern Culture” segment with a more personal feel. Keep “clicking”.