The State of the Writing Industry

Have you read Pasha Malla’s report?
Some interesting thoughts in his 27 thoughts on CanLit including,

7. Part of the reason for this dismay is that there seems to exist a tacit, unchallenged compact among those of us who work in the literary arts that we are all on the side of good[…]
9. Is a book somehow innately good just because it’s not an app? How does reading a book that extols the virtues of, say, Pol Pot, or regurgitates the same old vacuous narrative and thematic clichés (“unlikely friendships,” “the power of the human spirit,” “World War Two,” etc.) in lazy, insipid sentences, or seems a deliberate ploy to win a prize, qualify as best practices over watching The Wire on your iPad? Is a book still good even if it’s a bad book?
27.. I do think books are good—but if they are to continue to be written and published and read, even in a negligible way, they must offer something that other media cannot. Movies will always do a better of showing-not-telling. The Internet will always allow for greater direct involvement and agency.

The idea that if it poetry it must be healing or building society or new futures is a lazy thinking. It depends. Some isn’t done to those ends but to reinforce the familiar, to comfort in confirmation bias that all is well and divine-purpose-driven. Literacy can give options but it closes options. It shifts things culturally on individual level.
Writing is just head from inside the head as stuff outside the head, not anything more. It’s not more curated any more than everything is, presentations, sense of identity tribe. It isn’t distinct and apart from the any of the forces driving every other conscious and unconscious expression.
Developing a market for reading, for books, why? People read more than any time in history. Text comes in every direction in junk mail, in signs, in phones, in work, at home. People are reading on screen earlier than before, coming to school literate so what is the school to do? Not ABCs to start. What are we aiming to make? Self-reliant beings with the cognitive equipment to make distinctions, be self-informed, to up the collective game to fix the problems without introducing an exponential load of more problems. To be critically aware. The physical book is a lovely useful, no-electricity, potentially untrackable cultural package to move around ideas but the bigger scene is to share information, in a format that people can digest and access. Call it a book, call it a blog, call it an essay, call it a-text, extract cash from it if you can. Fighting over the idea of book is too basic tho.

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