CHOOSING A CAREER / NOV. 18, 2013
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Born to Write?

Famously, the inscription on the gravestone of poet, John Clare reads, "A poet is born not made." Whilst his life circumstances would seem to support this view, writing can equally become an occupation of choice. In recent years, changes in the publishing industry have redefined both the nature of writing as a profession and generally held pre-conceptions about writers.

No longer is writing the holy grail of priviledge and a formal education. The computer age has undermined the power of publishing houses and democraticised the writing process. Anyone with the motivation and ability to write has the capacity via the tools of the internet to publish their own writing. Thus, online writing, distinguished by websites, like careeraddict, provides a forum for writers and the means to establish a career. For the creative writer, the ascendency of e-publishing has encouraged many aspiring novelists to dust off the novels that they laboured to write, only for them to be rejected by lofty publishing houses and publish them independently for the delectation of the masses. Today's writers are labourers of words, the proletariat of pens, who write to reproduce their own means of subsistence not to waft through life as sacred literary flowers, venerated by their readership.

Online writing is a consequence of changes in production; a process whereby the quill was replaced by the pen, the pen by the printing press and so forth. Whilst progress should be saluted, most positives, also, entail negative aspects. Therefore, one might argue that democratisation has prompted a lowering of the standard of published content. Counteracting, the snobbery associated with traditional publishing, one of the most successful books in recent years has been, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, a novel which began life as an independent book. The critical panning this book and its sequels received indicates that the public can make up its own mind what it likes.

Quality content is not necessarily defined by esoteric and recondite intellectualism. The masses are not stupid. In fact, the masses are not a homogenous whole, but a multitude of beings, each possessing their own likes and tastes. Fifty Shades of Grey may not be Shakespeare, but in his time, Shakespeare wrote to entertain his audiences, "The masses."

In 2013, John Clare would have written online. For a poet, deprived of a formal education and wealth, traditional publishing would have almost certainly been inaccessible. Among the current crop of indie writers is a potential John Clare. Modern technology will secure his or her rebirth.

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