Writing & Reading: Alive or Dead?

August 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

I recently got on my high horse during a conversation about the craft of writing: the debate basically being whether writing and reading are alive or dead, whether we’re becoming/nurturing a breed of illiterates who can only function in 140 characters or less, a world of tweeters and soundbites. Let’s just say the topic sparked my interest.

It’s certainly becoming obvious that peoples’ attention spans in general seem to be shrinking into tiny little boxes, needing – or only able – to hear just what’s essential in as few syllables (and often as few individual letters) as possible … and while this may be due in part to information age overload and everyone’s time being filled up the wazoo, it can still be cause for concern. Are we losing our readers and writers?

I think not (and surely hope not). Those who love to write, write – they can’t NOT write. And those who love to read, read. I don’t believe that’s gone, nor will it be in the near future. The method through which they read and write may evolve, but the art will not die. It might be something as ancient as humanity: an inner sense or desire for storytelling. Soundbites just won’t cut it in that realm; they’ll never be as satisfying as a full story.

All my life I’ve been one of those who feels a compulsion to write. But I learned early on that not everyone shares that interest, skill or passion for writing, and have personally come to terms with that being “the way it is”.

Consider this: well before the advent of tweets and twits, brief emails, or the computer itself, writing was often preempted by a phone call. Before telephones, maybe there were the full-blown multi-page letter-writers, and the postcard-sending types. So it might just be that there have always been “pockets” of those who are simply more inclined toward the written word.

Newspapers and magazines may be going out of business, the publishing world may be in flux, but there’s still a thirst for the written word across all age groups. And what’s more, I think there’s room for both tweeting and writing …as long as they don’t confuse one as the other!

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