Tell Me A Little About Progress

Friday, January 15, 2010
We all know the adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” yet as a society we tend to view the past as something we survived somehow while lacking the sophistication of modern day. It seems like a slippery slope though, especially since we can’t predict without bias what’s going to appear completely stupid and shortsighted when we look back on today 10 or 20 years from now.

Take for instance, the age of the internet. There’s no arguing that the infrastructures of our businesses and to large extent, our lives, have shifted to an online, virtual reality. Certain industries have stumbled and dragged their feet when it comes to the online shift in things and finally the writing industry (always a bunch of dreamy, archaic minded folks) went head over heels about advancing into the new era. Various writing resources have been whooping up the new need for writers to create an online promotional presence for themselves to create a marketable platform to pitch to potential publishers when they go to sell their novel.

The issue? Literary agent Nathan Bransford posted this in his blog earlier this week: I think with so many marketing options available to authors in the era of the Internet there's sort of been a new expectation/conventional wisdom creeping up that the key to being a Good Hardworking Promoting Author is to blow out your blog, your Facebook page, your website, your Twitter feed, your Myspace page (still people there!), your Goodreads network, your Flickr account, and better yet, all of the above and by the way you need to set up your own author tour and try to get some media appearances going we'd love it if you placed some articles and stories and where's your book trailer oh also don't quit your day job and don't forget about your manuscript deadline and make sure the next book is incredible and amazing and could you spend some time with your family please?

We do things in the name of progress, but do we called things “progress” simply because it seems crude just to call it “change?” And when does adapting to change become a distraction? As Bransford points, there simply not enough time in the day for writers to do everything they’re meant to get done in a day and still have time to live. Oh yeah, and write.

So are we making progress? I believe in the tangible nature of progress, of progress being the process of getting to where you want to be. The internet era itself may be “change,” but I do think it can cause progress by forcing writers to become more proactive in their own professional lives. In addition, the internet lays out the competition where everyone can see it, somewhat dispelling the notion of overnight success and reinforcing a commitment to hard work.

Call it what you will, basically it comes down to the fact that there will always be a new way to spin your wheels. That certainly what it feel like around here at the Shack as Andy and I dash off in separate directions all day then fall into bed at night to try to recall what we did all day. The days have been so chunked up into play, work, article writing, chores, and other writing projects that sometimes it’s hard to recap it. Maybe we’re making progress, maybe we’re not. In the end, we’ll judge that seeing if we’re where we want to be and how silly this all seems 10 years from now.

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