MICHELLE GREYSEN - BLOG
clue, conception, hint, idea, indication, inkling, musings, notion, suggestion, suspicion, whisper ...
“Are there still more stories to tell?”
The age-old question offers the possibility of a hot debate, along with the new age question -
"Has the internet shortened all our attention spans?”
For me, someone who tends to write long and paint a broad narrative picture, I have often felt threatened by the pending doom of the instant information age. Perhaps the new reader truly is conditioned to shorter smaller chunks of information. The basic beginning, middle, end; the meet, lose, get, methodology sits intact but does the shorter attention span disrupt the narrative? Are today’s readers craving a faster hook and hold? Will a story have to be more of everything to be a success? More emotions, more absurd, a more over the top grab with a greater reward to the reader? In this era of gratification from technology overload, of cat videos and skateboarding crashes, it is apparent that the story in its purest form now must present to a new readership. Is faster and shorter becoming the new norm? As writers we all know that stories recreate reality and mimic life. Are even the classics of the past read differently by today’s audience?
There are many new storytelling methods challenging the old norms. The last question to ponder is that of “What is a story?” A series of events, the plot, and the order in which writers present are the beats, scenes, sequences and acts of our greater tale. The Story. The truth below the plot remains in the writers’ hands, but the telling of it to a new reader may take some shifting to sustain the readership future.
Storytelling is truly a basic form of human expressions shared across all cultures. Story is not just words or language. In today’s mass media world story is also told through dance, music, art, videos, and more; all holding valuable plots with a connection from a storyteller to an audience. Stories will thrive for as long as writers engage in the art form of the written word. Traditional books remain as just one of the many open channels to reach a readership and to send story, word-art on a global journey.
Are you a writer? I welcome any discussion on if you feel there are any original stories left to tell? Do you find it a challenge to write to readers bombarded with all the distractions in today’s world?
Are you a reader? Do you still enjoy a good read? Are you easily distracted by social media and getting your stories in short bursts off the web?
And for everyone … any preference for a hard copy book, or an e-book? And why?
(Or … when good Canadian writers must also sell real estate, and other sad tales of the state of the arts in our country)
As both an accomplished professional writer, a past successful corporate businesswoman in a few career ladders and now an equally accomplished Realtor, I feel I can speak fairly to the sad state of funding and support for the struggling arts/writing communities in our country.
What appears to have gone financially wrong for the arts in our Canadian culture is that we value and happily pay for and reward most industries except creatives. Yes, there are financially successful Canadian artists and writers, but the numbers are staggeringly few and the average annual earnings equally minimal. Sadly writers, all creatives in the arts community, are not valued in the social-norm definition of a job or a career choice of respect. Often a fine arts degree, BFA, jokingly referred to as a bachelor of F*ck-All.
In a past survey posted, The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), is calling it a “cultural emergency for Canada”, noting writers are working harder while earning less. Their publication, Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity, also shows an embarrassing gender gap in writers’ incomes in Canada, with women writers earning just 55% of the income earned by their male counterparts. The report shows a median net income from writing was less than $5,000, while the average income from writing was $12,879. Falling significantly below the average Canadian income of $49,000. at the time of the report.
TWUC predicts that “If writers continue to be compensated for their work at these low rates it will inevitably become impossible for professionals in the field to earn a living. With revenues from writing that fall below the poverty line, writers will increasingly abandon the sector for other employment … A decline in the number of writers will affect the quality and depth of materials available to Canadians as well as to the $1.9 billion book publishing industry which relies entirely on the work of writers.”
I view this not as just a business model downfall but a general society attitude problem. I personally have had many kudos and respect for my business success through a few major corporate career paths, but a comparable lack of respect or equitable payment for my published paid freelance, with an even lesser lack of earnings for my published creative writing work.
I worry about what happens to a country which does not value a creative community through supporting the arts. Everyone enjoys a great Netflix series, an inspiring gallery outing, a concert, theatre and especially a good book, yet most do not consider the creative processes in play to bring that enjoyment to their personal experiences. A corporate board room brings a high regard to those who sit around the big table with little notice to the artist whose work hangs on the wall in that very room. Pre meeting casual chit chat of the last show watched, or great book read brings rare mention of the skilled writer behind their enjoyment. The magazines on newsstands country-wide are heavily consumed with little revenue to the writer.
The attitude that creatives are hobbyists is alarmingly out of balance with the respect of professionals in most other industries. Speaking from my own personal experience when a hard-working creative published writer puts that career path on hold to sell real estate in order to pay the basic household bills, there is something fundamentally out of balance in the social attitude and elected voice in this country.
The disregard and lack of support for the creative community to earn a living wage is why Canada will continue to have so many stories go unwritten, art never imagined, and sadly creative energy never tapped.
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