Friday, May 18, 2012

Job Security

I love writing.  I always have.  That's why I became a writer and why all these years later I'm still doing it.

I'm not like other writers.  Most focus on one type of writing -- creative fiction, technical instructions, scientific articles, journalism -- and that's their life.  I've always felt that to be writer I needed to explore all types of writing.  And that has kept me going when other writers grouse about have a dead-end job or a lack of advancement.

Yet I hear these concerns and agree with them.  In many ways writing is a dead-end job.  Advancement comes not with a promotion but with years of experience doing the job.  The young writer, the novice, makes mistakes that the seasoned writer does not.  The problem is we don't reward seasoned writers.  Hell, I'm not sure we even appreciate them.  This is why many people I know who started out as writers went on to other jobs.  And I understand why these people made those choices and changes.  But that's not for me.

Perhaps, I've too romantic a notion about what writers do to give it up.  After all, writers are responsible for much of our culture.  All the poetry and theatre of the ancient world was written down.  Even today, your favorite TV show (excluding reality TV, which by the way is the greatest insult to the public -- but that's another post ...) is written and scripted.

Through writing ideas are communicated, preserved, and passed along.  Characters come alive, reborn with each new reader.  News and information are also transmitted.  Yet writers are not exalted publicly the way athletes are.  I'd love to see a set of bubble gum cards with the faces of great writers on them.

But I digress.  The point here is that writers are responsible for more than people realize and yet they are undervalued.  Part of this, I suspect, is because we live in a visual society, one that is addicted to film and video and less on the written word.  That wasn't true as late as the 19th century.  But now with all the things bombarding us who can keep up with all the books we should read and follow all the sources of information we should track?

Where does that leave the writer in the future?  I don't know, but I'm glad I've been exploring all parts of the field.  It helps with what little job security there is.

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