Everyone needs to have a rant every now and then. Please join me on one of mine.
Writing, and by that I mean putting pen to paper or rattling away on a keyboard, is easy, child's play. Pretty much everyone can read and write. All you need is something to write about and voila! You’re a writer. And of course as soon as you're a writer then you need to get published because that's what writers do, real writers anyway.
Why doesn't everyone who has ever heard Beethoven's Fifth Symphony suddenly decided they want to be a composer? Or what about everyone who's been exposed to Édouard Manet's Olympia? Do they drop everything and splurge this week's wages on a set of oil paints and a stack of canvases then try to convince the woman next door to strip off for them for art's sake?
Most don't because they realise there is something more to being an artist or a composer and maybe the woman next door simply isn't that kind of lady. No one (unless you're the next Mozart or Picasso) sits down and just does it. But to write all you need is an old school jotter and a pen. That's what Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot in. That's what my old mum wrote her poems in. What can be so hard about it?
I've actually been all three in my life and, yes, writing is, for me at least, the easiest of the three but it is not easy. I have, I'd like to think, a modicum of natural talent. That's a help. It helps not having to search for 'modicum' in a thesaurus for starters but simply having a decent vocabulary does not a great writer make.
Why back in the 1900s were there not more writers? There was no TV, no internet, no movies, no games consoles – what was there to do but sit around and write poems and stories and novels? Why, now there is too much to do, is everyone scribbling down poems and stories and novels in their lunch breaks? It doesn't make sense.
Or maybe it's this … maybe the guys back in the 1900s had nothing to write about. Imagine that, all the time in the world to write and nothing to write about. And those who did write wittered on about babbling brooks and fields full of daffodils and things that would just get laughed out of court these days.
Could it be that today's poems and stories and novels and blogs (ooh, ooh something new to pour all our angst into) are all a reaction to the modern word? Who the hell has time to wander lonely as a cloud these days? And if I suddenly decide I must go down to the sea again, it's an hour bus ride to Glasgow Central Station and then a forty-five minute train ride to Saltcoats and, really, Saltcoats beach is nothing to write home about.
It seems everyone's a writer nowadays. Because there's nothing any one of us can do about the way the world is, the only thing left is to bitch about it. On July 31, 2006, Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog. There are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day: about 1.6 million postings per day, or about 18.6 posts per second. The New York Times reports that, according to figures released this spring, a new book of fiction is published in the United States every 30 minutes. A conservative reckoning of the number of books ever published is thirty-two million; Google believes that there could be as many as a hundred million.
What the hell is there left to say?
"I have nothing to say, and I am saying it." - John Cage