This is the best time in the history of written language to be a writer

by thomasibenton

I am neither a historian nor a linguist, but I suspect that soon after the invention of written language there were writers complaining about the next inventions that changed the business of writing.

I mean, that papyrus stuff was made from swamp weeds. Having something that cheap and easy to to write on opened the doors for just any yahoo to call himself a writer if he thought he could string a few hieroglyphs together. No doubt someone argued that the lowered cost of admission seriously undermined the quality of writing in Egypt.

Perhaps lowered barriers to writing have indeed lowered the quality of the writing available, but I still think the printing press was a pretty nifty invention. Paperbacks and pulp paper were pretty good ideas, too. Ultimately, changes to the technology of writing put the dime novel and the penny dreadful and pulp fiction into the hands of ordinary people. Maybe those new works placed into the hands and hearts of ordinary people were of low quality, but I find it hard to consider more people reading to be anything other than an unmitigated good.

This Internet thing is pretty awesome.

I know, I know, I’m not even close to the first person to make this observation, but the fact remains that I am just kind of a guy who likes writing things. I have non-writing work that pays the bills, but thanks to the Internet I am still a writer–and I know from website analytics that I even have readers, which is the dream of anyone who wants to write.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to set up a simple site for free–as in, $0.00–to start blogging. Thanks to the Internet, I have been able to send out submissions to journals, both online and in print and in various combinations of online and print (stay tuned there if you are interested in reading fiction from yours truly featuring both hillbillies and space aliens). Thanks to the Internet I have been able to discuss the nuances of writing with new friends around the globe. For me, this is a Golden Age of Writing.

Yeah, the Internet has lowered the bar on who can be a writer. There’s horrible trolls who don’t deserve a platform filling the Internet with their vileness. There’s semi-illiterate txt spk all over. There’s an ocean of inanity, you might argue.

You would be correct to argue that the Internet has lowered to bar a person has to clear to be a writer. Personally, I think that lower bar is a feature instead of a bug, because now the bar is low enough for me to step over it. You can step over it, too. That sounds like a good thing to me.

So far my writing has earned back the $0.00 I spent to create that first blog, but I haven’t made any profit beyond that. Still, my writing progress has been sufficient to encourage me to spend the small amount needed to set up my very own site with my very own domain name (it’s really clever: I may not ever make a dime off of my writing, but who knows what the future may hold? The important thing is that I am writing and being read. A writer could not ask for more than that. This is the best time in history to be a writer.