It’s funny that I’ve been pumping out writing my entire life, maybe a million words so far, and I’ve never really called myself a writer.
I mean, there was a brief stint where I think my twitter bio included the word, but that was back in the Acrylo days when I was batting a post average of over one per day for a full year and a half, then declining to a mere four posts a week for a while longer.
Acrylo made money. By all rights it was successful. Good numbers, enthusiastic followers. A ranting author who was in school and thought he knew things about things.
A writer only insofar as he was someone who wrote words.
But I think there’s a second meaning he was (and perhaps I still am) missing out on — that of intention.
You see, anyone can write. Heck, if you remove the limitation of writing in English I could throw any stray cat on the keyboard and get a whole novel of aso khadf ois sdfokhjsdf isdfja sdou asdflsdfhj. It could be a best seller with a good marketing team’s spin behind it.
But below that there’s meaning. I’m trying to express things that are inside me. I’ve only published like 20% of the things I’ve ever written in my life. There’s hundreds of emails I’ve written as letters to myself, or fictional people, or to real people and never sent.
I’ve always been a visual artist. I’m not musical, but I’ve always drawn and doodled and cartooned and photographed and Photoshopped and made videos and animation and generally any kind of visual statements.
When those fail to communicate, I write.
But I always felt like writing was the easy answer, the giving up method. Anyone could ramble on with a keyboard, but only a select few could paint well. Those people, then, were the artists. Writing was not.
Painting isn’t quite democratized so I’m going to use a different medium as metaphor: photography.
So, when I was a kid I was the only one who carried around a camera everywhere. It was a Canon Powershot and it was always in my hand, like an extension of my limb. I was just that photography nerd.
We got cell phones when I was in high school but they were the first generation of flip and slide phones: generally pretty terrible. The ones that had cameras shot a whole 400x300 resolution through a tiny plastic lens tacked on the back, nothing like smart phones of today and their 4K optical stabilized sapphire lens 64GB 6" HD screen competent cameras.
At some point — grade 8 or 9 or so — I saved up my money and bought a DSLR: $1100 of real glass, mirror shutter, optical viewfinder stallion.
This is also when we first started discovering Facebook. Suddenly I had a place that wasn’t my blog (oh yeah, I had a free Wordpress.com blog) to share photography. There were people actually seeing it, commenting.
There was a distinction back then. I was a photographer, most people were not. I was the one carting around a dozen pounds in glass everywhere I went and shooting everything instead of directly being part of it. This worked out for my loner mentality anyway, I had an excuse to always be on the outside looking in.
We fast forward and everyone has a camera in their pocket. We’re all photographers without distinction save for skills, and those are subjective at best anyway.
What is photography as an art in a world where everyone is a photographer?
What is writing as an art in a world where everyone has a keyboard?
I’m making a pointed effort to publish these publicly. They’re not likely to be read, I’m not linking to them from Twitter or anything, they’re just what I’d be writing to myself anyway, except I click a button at the end that starts with a PUB instead of a DEL