This morning I relished with somewhat devilish delight a provocative opinion piece appearing in today's Huffington Post entitled New Rules for Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition and More.
Though some have speculated that this article may actually be satirical, it echoes many of the sentiments genuinely expressed by writers consciously choosing to bypass the disempowering aspects of those in the traditional writing establishment who are not enlightened or progressive enough to empower authors. I happen to know because I'm one such writer.
The push and pull of differing opinions on this topic come up regularly on weekly #writechat discussions on Twitter, with today no exception. In fact, last week, the topic was so very raw, afterwards I may have been the first to coin the new term "a-WRITE-ocracy" to describe the elitist attitudes that are unfortunately so commonplace in the established writing world, with the many writers in waiting circulating around its ivory palaces.
No matter how shrill the denials or condescending comments, there is no escaping the fact that a genuine writer's rebellion has been underway for so long, it is essentially a fait d'accompli.
The rebellion is actually not quite as revolutionary as we may think. Although not as accessible in the days of old, its seeds were already present in everything from cheap broadside ballads, chapbooks, almanacs and alternative news sources to the unconventional approaches of the talented 19th century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Self-publishing is the writer's entrepreneurship, not all that different from the choice to seek freedom as an independent business owner instead of a paid employee. Self-publishing need not only describe the publishing of a book. It can also encompass many forms of online writing, from blogs to discussion forums to entire web sites.
Traditional publishing may carry its rewards, but so does freedom. As with progressive employers, the most progressive publishers will survive and thrive, but only those that emphasize the empowerment of a true co-creative partnership, only those that recognize that writers really do have legitimate choices these days.
In truth, nothing can silence the voice of a writer, whether assessed by some as "talented" or not. Free, unhindered expression is writing in its purest form. And no matter how forcefully some attempt to bar the gates from the threat of the "writing rabble", the true gatekeepers are now the readers, not the publishers.