Thoughts about this blog and the grown-up it may one day become

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First, a little sonic amusement…

Wouldnt_you_like_to_write_a_story

  

 In looking deeper to what’s beneath the surface of reality, I’ve been thinking a lot about the new website I’m hoping to expand YWG into. I also thought I’d relay a piece of what’s been an interesting discussion this week going on at the old watering hole, I mean the WaterBrook Multnomah weekly editorial meeting.

  

First, a quote: “Since the Web is killing the old media, we face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock.”

  

This comes from a top-trending article in The New York Times from this week by Michico Kakutani. And another quote: William Gibson said in Wired, “Audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.”

  

A brilliant coworker friend of mine says she thinks this is a big part of why Wikipedia is popular. She’s not convinced its popularity has grown only because it’s free or easy to navigate and search. The interweb’s explosion of OpenSource and CollaborativeThink projects like this feel like home to digital natives perhaps as much because they are “ours” and not something compiled, shaped, and maintained by an outside “them.” And in that way, by being created and policed by its own most active users, Wikipedia is personal, organic, interactive, and alive in ways that more formally-edited and monitored sources are not.

 

But this is the point: Wikipedia is not always accurate or true and its users accept it and even in most cases defend this essential quality. It’s a “work in progress” and this is it’s deeper value. We’re losing something in a trade for something else. Therefore, giving up the expectation of truth (let alone capital-t Truth) for the experience of connectedness becomes a reasonable exchange.

 

When what you find most important is the community surrounding the info source, rather than the actual content, the value of the printed book in our society has fundamentally decreased.

 

And what few in traditional publishing are willing to admit is that this trade off (as the article and Mr. Lanier’s books posit) is exactly what we’re in the midst of.

 

I believe this is why we need conscious writers who value capital-t Truth to step in, first to stave off this systemic decline in the value of truth, but also to show that truth and connectedness aren’t mutually exclusive. Both are actually predictable results of any healthy community. No one need simply accept that artificial division and its fall-out as inevitable.

 

I see this supporting the dream I’ve had for the past 2 years or so, to see a healthy community of invested writers and readers online, a place where the best of collaborative input and responsible, informed truth-sleuthing can come together for the sake of something higher than business as usual What if a bunch of writers, editors, agents, and publishing folks were committed to growing, expanding abilities and inspiring their counterparts? What if we took the new interactive publishing to a community of innovation, collaboration, and remixed (“transformed?”) art and words?

 

What would that look like? Could I find people who'd join?

 

The strange vision I see is of a group that’s like a grand old antique dining table. Follow me here. When we clear off this table and see under the piles and grime to the ancient wood underneath, its lustrous sheen of years and years …and years…of human history, see the deep, rich color of memories reflected in its surface, then we know the true value of our various combined contributions. We find countless somethings we didn’t realize were there or even available before. We remember the deeper importance of what it is we’ve been looking for underneath it all. And we find our places to sit at the table together and just commune, break bread, and listen among the foundational connections we’ve enjoyed over time and space with countless voices throughout the years.

 

There is a way forward here, for many of us, where there wasn't before. In that place, I’m thinking anyone missing this connectedness could find it in a reading and writing community online. Through different seasons of life, talking about writing and authors we’ve loved, new emerging talent, and the beauty of words and literature, a blog is nice. But a bigger community for the book workers, those who do this every day like me, I imagine there are others who feel they could use this as much as I do.

 

Would you be drawn to such a community? Are you currently missing discussion about the deeper purpose of your work? Let me know if you'd like to share.

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18 thoughts on “Thoughts about this blog and the grown-up it may one day become”

  1. I think you already know what I think….
    (nodding, yes, vigorously….)
    Barefoot here too.
    (I’ll ponder more and return to this watering hole with more thoughts—and be watered more…)
    Anxiously anticipating!

  2. I’m there! We have to bust out of all the old paradigms in writing, internetting, and the ways we build connections in the culture, and yet keep our anchors in Truth. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue any more, and I for one find that refreshing. But the shift will require growth, because we don’t know what we don’t know. But we can know more together. So a watering hole such as this, with interaction between writers, editors, agents and publishers sounds like an opportunity for Holy Spirit synergy. Thanks in advance for giving the concept a place to happen.

  3. “giving up the expectation of truth (let alone capital-t Truth) for the experience of connectedness becomes a reasonable exchange.”
    This statement caught me in the gut. I’ve known this to be an encapsulated statement of what the web’s world has done in part, but not had language for it – least not such elegant language :)
    We love the connection, crave it even, yet we cannot afford to call good evil and evil good, for that has been the beginning of the end for every major society and culture in history.

  4. Hanging out with my writing tribe at Mount Hermon fueled again the love/fascination/need for artistic communities. You might want to consider a different vehicle from a blog, though.

  5. A feeling of shaking and heaviness comes over me as I ponder your thoughts…. Generation X, and the world in whole, is so hungry for depth. We are so willing to look for depth in temporal and ephemeral relationships. True connectedness will come with a renewed birth of true Truth. God can stand on His own. But, will I stand for God? Ego and the ephemeral – how close they are intertwined.

  6. Upon further reflection, Mick, it occurs to me that Truth, as Jesus, IS relational in its very essence. To the extent we communicate the relationship of Christ to life through the vehicle of conversation, we have shared Truth without getting hung up on objective facticity.

  7. I’m nowhere near the writer you all are, but I love hanging out and soaking what I can. I’d definitely join your group. I love what I pick up from you and your friends. Baker’s word “facticity” is awesomacious!

  8. So I’m reading John Gardner’s “On Becoming a Novelist” — though I never aspire to ascend to fiction — and as I turn the pages, I’ve been thinking about the hope of community…. and how, yes, it needs speak to the whole writer:
    “The writer’s accuracy of eye has partly to do with his character… The main accuracy required by their art has to do with self-understanding.”
    “Nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family… No human activity I know of takes more time that writing… Only strong character, reinforced by the encouragement of a few people who believe in the writer, can get one through…”
    Yes… maybe somewhere there could be a community that speaks to the character and the eye, the self-understanding, the time invested, the craft… and encourages the scratcher in the dark to keep going. encouragement… and yes, the craft.
    What if we all were like Walter Wangerin and had our very own Clara Schreiber?
    So no one had to dance alone.
    (And a community that included your Dad? How great is that? :)

  9. As I’ve read all the rumblings about the changes in publishing and been barraged with the arrows of doom, I’ve felt my shield of faith slipping at times. And yet, I keep coming back to the basic idea God had when He designed me and writer is hard-wired into my essential drive so there it is. Book contract or free-range blogger, I want to be His writer and not wander off grid for the sake of a greater following. I’m all in.

  10. found today:
    “Operating Manual for Not Quitting:
    a. Make friends with others who make art, and share your in-progress work with each other frequently
    b. Learn to think of (a) as the destination of your work.”
    ~ Art of Fear, Bayles and Orland

  11. Gleason Archer could speak/read/write over 30 languages, most of them dead languages. A scholar’s scholar in biblical antiquities, his kind of work was foundational to the whole discipline.
    He was an expert, and the acquisition of that expertise was enormously expensive.
    I would love to be in a community of shared knowledge with him.
    But this is where I have to ask the mercenary question, and I feel dirty even thinking about it.
    “Does knowledge pay?”
    The publishing industry was largely built on that premise. Is fair to say that scholarship exists because of this premise? Unless scholars either a) teach, or b) write FOR PAY, how do they repay their school loans?
    The Internet, by democratizing knowledge, has reduced (and almost removed) the cash incentive. When any American Idol fan can edit a Wikipedia entry, who needs an expert? Who needs scholars who have actually crawled around pyramids and rubbed their fingers over hieroglyphs? Let’s just read their stuff on Google books (for free), draw our own conclusions — no matter how far removed from the original research — and call it a great discussion.
    If “there are no facts, only interpretations” [Nietzche], and if anyone’s fact is as good as anyone else’s, then why bust your butt to master a field of study? If you won’t earn back your tuition, why go to school?
    The trend toward vocational training, and away from liberal arts scholarship, makes me sad. But who wants to major in Russian lit and work in Starbucks all his life (I have a real person in mind).
    Yes, we will write because we love to write, even if we don’t get paid. But, how can we afford the LEARNING that precedes good writing?
    I, too, long for community. I long for shared ideas, and I revel in the wisdom of the group. I just hope the group includes a scholar or two.
    The church is losing her scholars. I think this is partly due to publishing angst. The Gleason Archers are dying off, and the pipeline to replace them is thin… not because we don’t love knowledge, but because the value proposition is fading fast.
    Does knowledge still pay? Where? How? Am I a capitalist pig for thinking like this?
    Will the day come when we validate our discussions, not by objective standards of truth, but by the inventiveness with which we pool our ignorance?
    That’s my ramble, and I’m sticking to it.

  12. Bill, great thought! I’ve wondered this too. In one way, maybe most importantly, we’ll be provided for as we make ourselves available to God’s leadings. I’ve been asking if God wants me to pursue a master’s degree or if I should acquire the knowledge and not the expensive piece of paper. Either way, if it’s God-directed, I know it’ll be the best choice.
    But practically, are you someone who needs to know 30 languages? Or are you someone else? And do you need to better figure out who you are first? God is in that too.
    Write what he’s given you and strive, but only as he leads. And obviously, prayer precedes all.
    Many of my perceived problems and concerns arise from considering things from my limited perspective. But you do point out a growing problem, and I’m not sure how to best confront it beyond that. Maybe fighting to gain “cheap” but reliable knowledge and supporting those who are called to be even greater “knowledge holders”?

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