The Joys of Writing On-Line
It's Fun Unless You Have to Make a Living
The image of the struggling new writer cooped up in undesirable quarters until the first breakthrough with an insightful publisher is an anachronism. The struggles may be as painful and the quarters as undesirable, but a modest number of computer strokes and clicks now produce published authors.
The Internet, besides enabling self-publishing of full-length books by the more technically savvy, has created a cottage industry of web sites inviting and hosting the varied writing output of would-be poets, short story writers, philosophers, and authorities on everything from astronomy to zoology. In their competition for content, advertising, or other forms of distinction, hosts have made it simple to sign up and almost instantly begin writing on whatever moves the budding author. The rules for participating and for whatever typically modest compensation is involved vary widely, but if the essential interest is writing, it's never been easier.
Googling identifies a multitude of web sites open to contributing writers. If there is an emphasis on topics, audiences, or formats, these will be readily discernible, and although some will tout the earning possibilities, they should be taken with a grain of salt unless one is prepared for mass production and disappointment.
The joy of writing what's on one's mind and heart with few restrictions, the ability to immediately see one's creations "in print," and often to review comments and reactions from fellow writers or just interested readers are unique consequences of the instant nature of on-line writing. For those who derive pleasure from this sequence, it can be exhilarating. For those who need the earnings, it's not all fun.
One other caution. The plethora of writers' web sites means that most are not big revenue-producers. The accommodating hosts may have this as a side interest while they pursue other, more lucrative pursuits. While written rules, guidance, and FAQ's may be plentiful, actual human contact can be more elusive. Understandably, it's not the same as having your own publisher or agent. You can develop constructive relationships with fellow writers and "followers," but your best rewards will probably be the joy of writing.
It's Fun Unless You Have to Make a Living
Having Our Say
Free access to the World Wide Web enables us to speak our minds on any subject at any length and depth. Isn't this something many of us dreamed of as we steamed over a lifetime of events and opinions seen and heard in the media? No longer do we have to scream at the boob tube or throw the newspaper in the trash.
Hubs and similar formats are ideal for expressing our views and sharing our knowledge. Each of us can instantly become an oped columnist or other form of pundit by telling what we know (or think we know) and think on any issue that moves us. We can do this simply by writing the words that come to us. If we want to be more persuasive, we can do some research and avail ourselves of the easy availability of pictures, charts, and other supporting illustrations.
The long election year that has already begun is a perfect time to get into this role. With two dozen candidates having offered themselves for public appraisal, we surely have some sober or visceral reactions to individuals or the entire crop. Here's a chance to contribute to the discourse that will eventually put one of them in the White House.
But there's lots more going that cries for the widest possible participation in guiding the direction of American democracy. There's the Iran Nuclear Agreement which, even if enacted, will need close monitoring and vigilance and prudent standby measures for reacting to violations. There's another fiscal crisis with a potential government shutdown looming. There are ideas needed for correcting imbalances in our health care and tax systems which shouldn't await the next Administration almost a year-and-a-half away.
How about the environment and gun control? While the professional political class is focused on destroying their respective oppositions and discovering the election formula, can't an informed and aroused citizenry come up with common sense solutions that will be crucial to our lives no matter who is elected?
And if politics and public policy seems too weighty for some of us, there are constructive views to be expressed on the arts, education, recreation, and work life. We all have something to share, and if our easy web access inspires us to learn more about what we care about, so much the better for what we will contribute.