Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writing, In Perspective

As consuming as our cares about craft, promotion, and publishing in general are, every so often it is good to step back and put our problems in perspective. There are far too many people who are unable to join us in bemoaning the changes buffeting the culture of letters because they’re distracted by trifling annoyances like not starving,  succumbing to disease, or becoming a casualty.

Humans have always dreamed and told stories. That we have the time and the means to catch those dreams and render them in an enduring form, which has the potential to touch the lives of far more people than could ever fit around a campfire, is something our forbearers would find miraculous.

For much of our history only the rich and powerful were able to leave a durable legacy because palaces, temples, and monuments of stone were about your only options if you wanted future generations to know you were here. In time, books provided a more effective way to preserve your thoughts and feelings for those who would follow, but they were still the province of an elite sliver of society. Now billions of us can write for the ages.

Of course, nothing is ever certain. A host of calamities, from asteroids to zombies, could reduce us to fossilized traces. But in the grand scheme of things, we’re incredibly fortunate to have words to worry about, rejections to receive, and the perpetually perplexing publishing industry to enjoy.

Image: Simon Howden /

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