Friday, June 8, 2012

parallel to one coordinate plane

From Michael Bourne's April 30 essay on The Millions about what the death of newspapers means for writers: "I fear we are creating a generation of riff artists, who see their job not as creating wholly new original projects but as commenting upon cultural artifacts that already exist."

Yep. I worry about that too, and about whether or not I've taken on too much of the generic MFA writing style, defined by Bourne as an "insular, navel-gazing style that has more to do with a response to previous works of fiction than to the world most non-writers live in." I don't think I have - I have a teeny bit of journalism experience and the sense of urgency that comes with freelancing for a living - but I also really, really don't want to spend my entire artistic career rearranging puzzle pieces, so I'm a little defensive about the possibility that it might happen despite my best efforts to avoid it.

I feel like this graduation speech where the kids were told they weren't special ties into this issue somehow, but I can't find the words to explain it at present. All I know is that if I hear one more goddamn person talk about participation trophies I am gonna respond in a hyperbolic manner.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

identify compelling stories and showcase them

A recent Urbanite article about the Baltimore media ignoring Baltimore's literary scene is pinballing its way around social media, and for good reason - the stereotype that Baltimore newspapers are run by petulant wannabe New Yorkers might very well be wrong, but it sure is easy to bring up in this context.

What pricked my ears up, though, was not the generic advice about writers needing to "put their stuff out there" (even if there's no designated "out there" to put their work into) or the comparisons between participatory arts and writing, which is by nature a solitary thing. No, it was the Baltimore Sun's Dave Rosenthal, who blogs for Read Street, claiming that book reviews and such are "a hard market to hold on to, as people seem to be reading less."

Um actually

people are reading more

thanks to e-readers and similar technology 

So yeah, that doesn't really work as an excuse.

That said, the arts community in Baltimore has this issue from time to time. Up until the recent change in leadership, Centerstage had this weird bias against using locals in their productions for anything besides grunt labor, but they were more than willing to truck in producers/designers/directors from New York whether they were worth the expense or not.

That's not the only reason why writers here get ignored by local media (deadline crunches and overworked staffers can lead to some truly bizarre prioritizing), but it's a citywide self esteem issue that I've noticed before, and that probably exists in other cities too - if you're still here and not in New York, then you don't matter. Considering the creative and conceptual talent this city has to offer, that attitude needs to go away, and soon.