Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Vicious circle? Or just mildly ill-tempered?

About an hour after I posted yesterday, I suddenly worried that I'd been a lot horn-tootier than I'd meant to. I was meaning to talk about how the supposed authorities validating public discourse (academia, the electronic media, publishing) aren't necessarily the objective meritocracies that would give them that authority. And while some people obviously deserve a forum because of their talent, their ability to express themselves, the value of their ideas, we all know perfectly well that others get into those positions for reasons that we don't respect.

Actually, in true chicken-and-egg fashion, maybe the explosion in the Internet, and especially the much-maligned worlds of blogging and social networking, are the result of the confidence-erosion we have in the old systems of validation. We all see crap getting published. We've all seen people get good jobs not for their merits but for their connections or their ability to project an image. People like that anti-Internet writer seem to suggest that if individuals are shut out of the mainstream of public discourse for whatever reason, they shouldn't even have the right to try to find an audience...which is just what a lot of blogging and self-publishing is all about. You may not get an audience, but you do still have the right to try. At least in my crazy DIY world.

God, listen to me talk! You can take the girl out of the grad school...

Anyway, as these notions rattled through my head, I thought, well, maybe I should go back and edit so it doesn't sound like I think I'm such hot shit. And then I realized, well, that's one way to get shut of out of the mainstream of public discourse! For me to get my work more "out there" in the more traditionally mediated media, I'd have to try to sell my work. Brand myself, package myself, promote myself...keep a straight face while convincing someone to take my work seriously. Pretty much every book on writing that's been published in the last twenty years has a section on how getting published isn't about being a good writer, but about selling yourself, or you'll get nowhere.

So I stick my tongue out at my own naysaying. The fact that I was concerned about coming off like I was so great as some kind of alternative whatever is evidence of WHY I'm still just an alternative whatever. If I could maintain that swelled head with some conviction, or better yet, develop that seemingly effortless attitude of self-confidence, maybe I could be working for the "real" media.

But that would also mean relinquishing creative control. So I think I'm good for now in my self-contradictory life...

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