Is Professional Writing Doomed?

Tarring the Boat (Le Bateau goudronné)

  • Is there future in freelance writing?

Freelance copy/content writing that has to do with selling or marketing is a different story. But what about writing (produced by writers to make a living) that aims at informing, or merely entertaining?

Magazine articles and newspaper articles fall under this category, but so do short stories, novels, books of poetry, etc.

“There is so much wonderful writing on the internet, which is free. Eventually, writing will be like musical recordings. Everyone will have access to everything. … The world is changing–has changed–considerably. Many excellent writers give away 200-page books for free–really excellent. Digitization is creating an entire new world.” — RK, Bob Bly‘s Facebook friend

  • Is the internet killing professional writing?

Back in 2008 Bob Bly interviewed writer Harlan Ellison, and the latter blamed the internet for making life a lot harder for professional writers. Mr. Ellison criticized the “slovenliness of thinking” on the web as well as the “slacker-gen philosophy and belief today that everything should be free.”

“With all the sites publishing articles and short stories for
which authors are not paid, and which readers don’t pay to read —
well, what would you expect?”

  • Do success stories still happen?

Notwithstanding (or in part thanks to?) the changes and challenges brought on by the internet, Kindle, etc. — yes, success stories still happen.

“Last month, Lara Prescott was preparing to graduate from her three-year creative writing fellowship at the University of Texas. Two weeks later, she is sitting on book deals worth at least $2m (£1.5m), after publishers on both sides of the Atlantic battled to get their hands on her first novel.”

Will you write for the love of writing, in other words be an amateur? Will you hold on to your dream of writing for a living? Will you be the next success story?

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Image: Édouard Manet. Tarring the Boat (Le Bateau goudronné), July–August 1873. Oil on canvas, Overall: 19 11/16 x 24 1/8 in. (50 x 61.2 cm). BF166. Public Domain.

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“Just listen, let it wash over you…”: Jeremy Irons on Narrating the Poems of T.S. Eliot

On hearing Jeremy Irons recite her late husband’s poetry, Valerie Eliot called the actor “today’s voice of Eliot.”

Jeremy Irons who recently narrated an audio book  “The Poems of T.S Eliot” talks to Stephanie Bastek of The American Scholar about the project.

  • How is driving a Lamborghini similar to understanding poetry?
  • What’s the reason Jeremy Irons listened to T.S. Eliot reading his own poetry?
  • How do you achieve a recording that’s got tremendous energy to it?

Find out. Don’t miss, it’s a delight. 

And if you are into reading poetry, rather than listening to it, here’s a different perspective on reading poetry out loud.

Finally, do you want to win a $25,800 fellowship?

  • Are you between 21 and 31 years of age?
  • Are you a US citizen, or do you reside in the US?
  • Do you write poetry?

Try your luck at Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships. Submissions are accepted until April 30, 2018. Hurry.

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image credit: T. S. Eliot in 1923, by Lady Ottoline Morrell, public domain

 

Leonard Cohen’s Last Farewell

“But along with other great masters: Bob Dylan certainly, Joni Mitchell, Kanye West — everybody’s got their own list — Leonard Cohen is way up there in the ranks of American song, and songwriters,” — David Remnick says prior to sharing his interview with Leonard Cohen.

Kanye West in a tribute to Cohen? Leonard Cohen — an American songwriter?

If you’re bothered by this introduction, you aren’t alone. Just let it go, for what follows is a good interview. Focus on listening to Leonard Cohen speak.

“The more you treat it as just another thing…”

On writing good sex scenes:

“Sex scenes are not about getting aroused. They are about showing how a particular character goes about having sex, what it means, and what happens next.

They might be arousing, but what I really want the reader to do is keep reading, so the scenes have to be narratively interesting and meaningful, as idiosyncratic as any other scene. That means that you have to think about and investigate sex and relationships as frankly and intently as you would anything else that you are writing about (say, changes in the banking rules).

The more you treat it as just another thing, just another interesting thing, the better your sex scenes will be.”

Jane Smiley

 

 

Andrés Barba tells the truth

reading:

“Every time I’ve experienced an intense feeling of pleasure when reading a book, it was somehow related to the idea that what I was reading there was profoundly truthful.”

writing:

“…I try to create characters that come across as much as possible like real people. And if our feelings about real people are always complex and ambiguous, why shouldn’t the same be true in a novel?”

translating:

“Translating is a very beneficial process for a writer, but it’s also very difficult—and, in Spain, particularly badly paid. Often you don’t even realize you’re learning anything until you sit down to write something of your own.”

Read the full interview here.