2009 Time Magazine Article

I was wondering if anyone else here saw this Time article from back in 2009 (most of it's under a pay-wall now, so you can only read it if you have a Time subscription): http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1873122-1,00.html

It's one of the things that inspired me to write a web serial, and I think it's really shaped a lot of my philosophy when it comes to weblit. I don't have a Time subscription, so unfortunately I can't read the thing in its entirety anymore. However, I put some of my favorite quotes in my commonplace book, and I just figured I'd share them with you, as a potential conversation-starter. (Hopefully this is all fair-use. These quotes don't constitute a significant portion of the article by any stretch, so it's probably legal to share.)

"A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn't dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it's done. Literature interprets the world, but it's also shaped by that world, and we're living through one of the greatest economic and technical transformations since--well, since the 18th century. The novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever."

In all honesty, 'cheaper, wilder, trashier,' is in the back of my head a lot of the time when I'm writing. I vaguely considered using it as the tagline for my serial, but decided against it.

I always get really bitter when web novels don't hook me in the first paragraph (they rarely do).

"Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds."

From what I've seen thus far, I'm actually pretty impressed by the lack of too many 'noxious weeds.' The average quality of writing on this web site is a helluva lot higher than the stuff I've seen on any other democratic website (democratic as in everyone can hypothetically post their writing here.) I guess it makes sense, since the process of getting something on Web Fiction Guide is harder than getting something on fanfiction.net (Not in a bad way. Just in a, "You have to apply" sort of way).

I do remember that article, and it was mostly a copy of an article that appeared online several years before. people have BEEN saying this since 95 or so (when I first started trying to web serialize) as far as I'm aware. It just took a bit longer to come to fruition then we thought.

I wouldn't be afraid of the whole "cheaper, wilder, trashier" thing. That sort of writing has been around a long time. Like when they recently found jokes recorded in cuneiform that included a drink about piss and beer, and a yo momma joke. There have always been trashy stories that got written and were enjoyed. Some of them even survived. Shakespeare, anybody? Shall we cut off their maiden's heads? Discuss country matters, perhaps? Or maybe you want something written informally, like slang and such? Do try the Huckleberry, Finn.

Besides, as Fifty Shades of Grey shows us, it's possible to make a lot of money even off of crappy fanfic.

Also, even the greats have put out some trashy works. While Benjamin Franklin's letter "Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress"(http://www.bibliomania.com/2/9/77/124/21473/1/frameset.html) was perhaps private, his essay known as "Fart Proudly" (http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/to-the-royal-academy-of-farting/) was not likely considered up there with other great works of American literature.

But my thoughts on this subject, much like Franklin's on flatulence, "are, all together, scarcely worth a FART-HING."

Even the greats are silly sometimes. Apparently Mozart liked poop jokes and there are lots in his letters.

Hollins, would you happen to have a link to the article that came before this one? I'd be curious to read what it has to say.

And yeah, I actually see the "cheaper, wilder, trashier" thing in a positive light. I mean, I think cheaper things are better than expensive things, and creatively-speaking I prefer wild things as opposed to staid/orthodox things. Admittedly the trashy part is a little less positive. But even then it reminds me of the stuff I like (comic books, pulp magazines, soap operas, etc.) I super-prefer "trashy" to "self-important."

Ugh, reason 4,358 why I never want to be famous: correspondence. Imagine people looking at your Private Messages on Facebook or Tumblr or wherever and looking at all the poop jokes. (That said, "FART-HING"? Somebody here better become famous 'cause that's pure gold. Now I'm off to read Benjamin Franklin's sage advice.)

I resent articles like that. I resent the hell out of them. I'm really not interested in a writer -- any writer -- telling me how my medium dictates how I write. I choose that. Everyone else gets to decide whether they like what I write, or whether they don't, but I'm not going to accept "cheaper, wilder, trashier" any more than I'll accept "self important."

The 2009 Time article is actually pretty tame. It's only four years ago, and it's mild compared to the crap going around now. I'm seeing a lot more of these kinds of artificial divisions these days. The Internet is reminding me more and more of someone's attempt to re-create high school, only with themselves set up as the cool kids at the lunch table. I have no interest in it. I write, hopefully people read, everything else is a fucking waste of time.

Hey, I remember this. It got me thinking, for sure, although for me it was just part of a wide array of things pointing towards self-publishing and writing on the Internet.

Amen to that, ubersoft. Sure, the medium is a factor, but I don't think anyone can make a statement like "all webfiction should be X" just like they can't say "all novels should be X." At the end of the day, the writing's just writing, no matter what format.

(On a side note: Fart Proudly is a glorious addition to the American canon.)

billy, there were several, all in the same vein, around 2000, then 2003, then 2005, and so on. lol.

Uber, it seems to be the article is kinda doing that, but kinda trying to say that the walls are breaking down, and that medium ISN'T dictating any more, thats the point, that these other styles of writing CAN be used to reach others. Your own prose comic book is certainly wild and crazy stuff, yes no?

But yes, artificial stratification of the internet is BAD. I think part of the problem is the article writer A, i think cut and pasted parts of other articles in part, and B. doesn't quite know their own stance on it.