If you want someone to tell you: that you’re a wonderful human being, that you’re a magnificent writer, or that you are spot on to try to compensate for low self-esteem by having a go at writing, I’ll send you to Hubby. He’s a software architect and he promises that he’ll convey only compliments to whichever of the would-be authors of my acquaintance seek unearned eminence. Regrettably, Hubby, who is marvelous with code, knows little about plot, characters, setting, or others of the elements of literature. On balance, few among those newfangled strivers would care.
It happens that, these days, our culture’s sense of “talent” has shifted quickly, in correlation to our willingness to embrace convergent media. Formerly, it was the case that academic recognition, i.e. college degrees, in combination with years of practical experience, were used to gauge specialists’ worth (in our time, the employment of such benchmarks is chiefly limited to school districts and other large organizations, which customarily utilize those standards to discern salary strata.) At present, inversely, when commissioners buy manuscripts or other assemblages of thoughts, more “innovative” means of determining value get implemented.
For instance, our world’s ever-changing exploitation of message conduits has countenanced a carpenter, e.g. Ana White, a fashionista, e.g. CeCe Olisa, and a speculative fiction writer, e.g. Cory Doctorow with enough social credentials, given their blogging, vloggin, and assorted other website/application activities to count them as “authorities.” These folks became trendy because of their facility with idea delivery technologies. More exactly, Ms. White is highly charismatic. Ms. Olisa has wonderful articulation, great eye contact (with the camera), and an amazing command of language. Mr. Doctorow is a good writer and a creator who comprehended how to build market share by offering his books on ordinary, fee-based platforms as well as for free.
They may or may not be as brilliant as some of their creative peers; their recognition endures for the reason that of their media savvy.
The problem with this kind of achievement is that less able individuals try to emulate it. Whereas, currently, it’s fallacious to claim that getting educated, possessing genius, or functioning professionally necessarily leads to attainment, as regards getting books written, circulated, or sold, education, giftedness, and knowledge of the publishing industry do help writers approach these ends. Nonetheless, a sizeable share of today’s emerging scribes refutes the wisdom of: engaging in diligence, being receptive to guidance, or setting aside resources for a great deal of practice. Sooner, they happily identify: writers, who are educated and adept, but not gifted, who receive grand fiduciary rewards; writers, who are educated and gifted, but not polished, who receive literary acclaim; and writers, who are endowed and disciplined, but not traditionally educated, whose opuses gets referenced as “classic.”
Said differently, contemporary, would-be word slingers believe that to be gazed upon as “accomplished,” they need not exert themselves as long as they are clever with the latest electronic business models for information exchange. Schooling, high performance savoir-faire, and focused competence mean nothing to their pursuit of status. When confronted with the illogic of their beliefs, such persons are swift to retort that “popularity,” historically, hasn’t always meant “excellent” and that, sometimes, “well-liked” is enough to become rich and famous. To support their claims, they cluck loudly about the sales history of products including: Clackers, Chia Pets, and Pet Rocks.
In consequence, such skewed views/ungrounded principles translate into social norms, which, in turn, cause challenging pedagogical moments. Namely, as a principled: teacher of writing, editor, and writing contest judge, I’ve had to confront students, submitters, and contestants who would prefer to debase me, either face-to-face, or remotely, for “unfair expectations,” than improve their writing. In the esteem of those underripe thinkers, people like me exist to accelerate their transformation into “well-published” wordies, no matter their failure to: fashion decent work, learn how to vend work, or figure out how to promote previously distributed work. Sigh.
Some aspirants of that nature even try to bribe or to bully gatekeepers of my ilk when they perceive themselves as not ascending at speeds that they had foreordained. As for me, I don’t accept proffered gifts and am unimpressed with tendered threats. Bribes are antithetical to my ethics. Threats, too, are incompatible with my moral code.
Not much needs to be said about deflecting bribes. In terms of warding off threats, in general, they don’t bother me. For example, had the young thug, who was enrolled in one of my college writing courses, slashed the tires of my thirdhand owned car, as he had promised to do one bright morning, twenty-five years ago, I could have collected more money from my insurance company for the resulting loss than I could have, according to the car’s Kelley Blue Book, by reselling it. In another situation, had the miscreant, who had studied with me online, actually written bad reviews for one of my books, as he had intimated, one rainy night, five years ago, my book could have gained in SEO ratings since bad publicity is still publicity. By dint of his ranting, I could have received free promotion.
The opposite, too, is true for heedful caretakers. While folks like me might give little energy to frustrated, manipulative, developing writers, we gladly give time and attention to learners, who push for knowledge of up-to-the-minute client-server programs capable of: bettering their scripts, transmitting their documents, or bringing unrestricted interest to their already broadcast compositions. What’s more, although money and prestige suit some custodians, the majority of us prefer to empower persons, by helping them fulfill “archaic” intentions such as producing sound writing. To us, “success” remains a matter of effort, not of wishful thinking.
Consider that just like the fitness center faithful, who start to show muscle definition in as little as a month or two, novice writers, who are steadfast in their exertions, start to show enhanced skills in a similarly relatively brief span. There’s little that is particularly more arduous about completing a quality text than there is in reaching other disciplines’ dedicated goals. Some of us would rather fit a poem to a season, a character to a demographic, or word choice to an audience than: titrate a solution, calculate the possible geometries resulting from slicing a 3-manifold, toil in high steel, or serve as a forensic entomologist.
That said, it’s concurrently true that the earlier mentioned writing hopefuls, the ones who: dream of payments with lots of zeroes, consider themselves better socially stationed than monarchs, and elsewise deem that their lackluster commodities ought to be of extraordinary importance, are well advised to focus their time on driving buses or on selling plants, not on shaping books. Those new “experts” are better directed to approach professionals like Hubby for encomia than to try to enlist the aid of authentic communication professionals. Trying to teach them, after all, becomes an exercise in getting a labradoodle to speak Cantonese.