Saturday, August 04, 2012
Message In a Bottle
Whatever the reason, I've found myself thinking lately that writing these days is like sending a message out on the ocean in a bottle. Maybe it's always been that way. Each of us human spirits are isolated on our little desert islands and we write messages to the unknown world at large, then set them adrift on the open sea hoping they will find another lonely soul and speak to them. Granted, we study the tides to help our message travel in the direction most likely to find an audience. (Hell, I never said this metaphor was perfect.) But at bottom there is a great act of faith in sending forth your written yearnings to an unseen, faceless, theoretical recipient, releasing all control, and then being left to wait.
What gets me right now, with the digital self-publishing opportunity-turned-mania-turned-glut, is the sense that the entire world is clogging the ocean with so many bottles of messages that the other lonely souls are more fed up than interested and the poor ocean is polluted and all the creatures in it are endangered. (See if you can make sense out of THAT metaphor!) What used to be a conversation, or an effort at conversation, between readers and writer has become a sort of desperate clamoring, a tower of babble, filled with writers screaming "Free e-book giveaway! Blog tour! Check out my new release!!".
I know the readers are still out there. And writers are all readers, or should be. I just wonder if they're scanning the horizon for those floating bottles anymore.
A confession - Portland, Oregon, where I make my home, has finally gotten something approaching a taste of the heat wave that hit the rest of the country. Perhaps it is melting my brain. I will use that as my excuse for the meandering nature of this post. That and the fact that short stories, novels and picture books have been motivating me, garnering my attention and inspiring me to such an extent that I have neglected the ol' blog for too long and therefore felt compelled to toss a message out onto the sea of cyberspace. Here it is. Now, step out of the sun, have a nice drink of something cool, and save that bottle as a future communication device.
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