The Death of Words

As I write this, I can’t help but think of “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

I’ve spent some time researching how to create a better blog. While I’d much rather spend time on crafting the best novel I can, I know it’s important to keep the blog up. Not just keep the blog up but to write interesting things, attract followers, and so on and so on. I’m confident that everyone that blogs knows that attracting new followers is a big thing. While I can write, marketing and selling has never really been my thing.

So, I’ve turned to the experts. By that, I mean, the Internet. Seems like the right place to go in this case.

I’ve never been an early adapter. I like taking risk (like jumping out of airplanes) but new technologies, not so much. Let’s just say when I was a kid, my dad bought the family a Betamax, convinced it was the perfect purchase. If you don’t know what that last phrase means, you should Google it for fun. I come to this blogging thing a bit late. In large part because I really don’t have anything interesting to say and also because when I ghost blogged, I learned how easy it can be to lose control of original content. And how hard it can be to get it back.

Late to the party, the experts have shown me that blogging is kind of over. Not dead, per se. Just passe. It’s all about You Tube stars (vloggers and people doing crazy stuff). Please. I can barely summon the courage to do this blog. I’m supposed to put my face to it?

Other advice has consisted of including gifs – or at the very least, pictures – within the text to break-up the monotonous chore of reading. No one wants to see too much text without pretty pictures apparently. Not to be obnoxious, but I can’t think of the last novel I read that included pictures, even YA novels. There’s also the ever popular listicle (a completely interesting word on so many levels). I have no problems with the list format as a method of writing and disseminating information. I worry, though, that it doesn’t improve my writing.

What really worries me is that the shift to these styles of communication and media (since vlogging isn’t exactly writing) is that it isn’t helping us as readers. I’ve gotten used to Twitter shorthand and now accept the fact that questionable spelling and grammar are necessary, required even, because of the 140 character limit. But when I’m getting advice like “stick a picture in there so your readers don’t have to read so much,” I get concerned that as a society, we’re failing ourselves.

Pictures on a cooking blog or a DIY blog make sense. If you’re giving me instructions on how to re-roof my house by myself, a couple of diagrams and pictures, even gifs, might prove useful. Of course, if you’re able to explain it clearly and I get it and can then do it without pictures, you’re an awesome writer. However, I feel that no one is that awesome, so again, pictures seem necessary.

But on a blog that’s sort of about writing? Or, let’s be real here, nothing in particular? I kind of feel like that says that I, the writer, doesn’t trust you, the reader, to fill it in. That I don’t think you can figure out what I’m trying to describe. Doesn’t that mean I’m not such a great writer? Shouldn’t I be able to create that image for you in your mind’s eye? Or worse, does it mean that I think that you, the reader, lack the critical reading skills to figure out what I’m saying so I just say, “Fuck it. I’ll throw a picture in here, just in case you don’t have that ability”?

What does this say about the experts that advise me to do this? Yes, I know, I went to the Internet for advice, so I kind of get what I deserve. And, also, I do know there is the giraffe picture on this blog. But it’s one picture. At the end of a post. And it’s a great picture of a giraffe.

I worry this means that we, as a collective group, are watching the death of the written word as a form of communication. Not just in terms of sharing stories, but in terms of sharing ideas, information, and even history. I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about when you don’t have a camera handy. A rarity these days, for sure, but it can and does happen. And then what? What happens when we lose the ability to describe something without a snazzy gif? How will that change things? How will that change how we communicate in any form?

 

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It’s Hard to Be a Grown-Up

Long absence, I know. But that’s because I’m a grown-up and have “responsibilities” and such. Things I don’t want to do but have to. Some of them are legally required of me, some of them I just have to do because I’m a grown-up. But, man, it is tough sometimes.

(I know, I know, a lot of what I’m about to say falls into the category of “first world problems” but, due to lack of anything else, that’s what today’s post is all about.)

Like this blog post. I’m sitting here basically not doing it (even though I am) because there are other things I don’t want to do. Like mend a pillow case and paint some shelves. Easy things that will probably take all of about two seconds to do.

Then, there are the harder things, like waiting back on 2 email responses that I really don’t want to deal with. I mean, they are things that need to be dealt with and that’s part of being a grown-up. But I just don’t want to. I realize that if no one else does it, it won’t get done and then I will suffer the consequences, hence my taking the lead on it, but… Yuck. I really hate dealing with stupid stuff. Actually, that’s not true. Sometimes I just hate dealing with stuff. But, that’s part of being a grown-up.

And, I’m not even sure when this grown-up thing happened. I kind of woke up one day and said “How did this happen?” I don’t remember a ceremony marking the occasion. Or getting an official written offer that I accepted. It just kind of happened. Sure, there are some aspects of being a grown-up that are awesome. Like right now, it’s 10 AM and I’m still in my pajamas with no plans to leave them anytime soon and in a few minutes I’ll probably have a mid-morning power boosting snack of coffee and donuts. And, since I don’t work the day job today, I can go outside and play in this beautiful weather (probably the last one for the year).

Play. Like a kid. Only it will be grown-up play which is more like exercise, really. Like riding the bike and cleaning up the yard, checking on the fall/winter crops (OK, last surviving crop) in the garden. Adjusting the Halloween decorations. Which really isn’t play. It’s the grown-up version of play.

And then, oh, yeah, gotta work on the WIP, too. Trying to create a compelling character is rather hard work. I had hoped it would be an easy, natural process. Nope. I’m excellent at creating flat, boring, cardboard characters though. So, there’s that.

OK, enough whining. Off to work and all those other grown-up things I have to do.

I Like Pop, I Like Rock…

I like pop music.

There. I said it.

Don’t judge me. Or do judge me. If I was worried about judgement, I wouldn’t be blogging.

It’s called pop music for a reason. Because it’s popular. Now, I realize that calling it “popular” opens me up to a lot of criticism. Labeling it “popular” isn’t fair because who decides what popular is? And why is it popular? And how come it all seems to sound the same? And most of the artists seem to look/act/think a certain way? I know all this. But, allow me to continue without getting drawn into a debate about what defines popular. Because that’s not what this is about.

I realize there are many who will judge me, deride me even about this choice. Because, really, listening to a certain type of music is a choice. Pop isn’t the only thing I listen, too. I listen to alternative, and classical, and rap and pretty much whatever. If it’s a good song, I’ll listen. And possibly like it. Much like a good book, I’ll read whatever genre as long as I like it.

However, I can’t help but notice that Pandora seems to put a lot of pop in rotation for me. Taylor Swift seems to be a favorite these days. And I’m OK with that. It’s fun music. Sure, songs about break-ups aren’t exactly uplifting happy songs. But the ones with the revenge themes can be. Even the heart break songs can have a snappy beat that I can dance to. And dance I do. Unless I’m at work because I think that’s pushing the “I’m enjoying this” boundary a bit.

I feel like I should explain why I like pop music. It’s not because I want to defend the genre. It’s because it serves a purpose.

It’s fun, it’s silly, it helps me forget

Helps me forget?

Yup. It helps me forget about all the awful in the world. In case you weren’t aware, there’s this Ebola thing happening. (Side note, the conspiracy theorist in me says this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, but I might be wrong, so don’t quote me on it.) There’s the ever widening income gap that makes me worry about the future. I could go on and on about the spiraling costs of healthcare, or the issues in the Middle East (pick one these days) or the upcoming midterm election or what the Supreme Court is or is not ruling on. But, I won’t. Instead, I blast the radio (or streaming music) and forget about this world.

Because when the music is on and I’m focused on writing, I’m living in a world I create. One where everything works out (mostly. I’m not all sunshine and roses but you’ve got to have some happy in there) and the bad guys get taken down. Even if the lines of right and wrong are blurry and don’t exactly make sense, the good guys, the one’s you are rooting for, win. Whatever winning is.

That doesn’t happen in the real world. Good guys loose. A lot. Evil wins. A lot. And evil doesn’t always look like a zombie. Often it looks like a guy in a suit. Or girl in a suit. I don’t discriminate.

Hence my desire to read and write thrillers and sci-fi and speculative stuff. To create a world where the little guy wins (even if he has to bend the rules a bit). Since we don’t win very often in this one, it’s nice to have that kind of alternative reality to escape to. It can be a lot better than this one. And I sometimes help create that listening to fun, silly, escapist music.

So, judge me if you will, but I’ll keep on reading and writing the “fun stuff, listening to the pop stuff and shaking it off. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.