26 January 2011

The Last Laugh...

... is on us...

I read that Irish writers would be better off taking a job in manufacturing (if one exists) rather than plow a solitary furrow through the Groves of Academe and the literary world.

The tax concessions for artists have been cut back to "let's leave them in the garret" levels and many supplement meagre earnings by teaching or doing freelance work in magazines and newspapers.

Society need interpretors. And since, if one writes exactly, factually, how things are, one is liable to get sued by those whose nose has been put out of joint, fiction seems to be the best genre for today. The Internet is booming with new voices, all quick to find metaphor, simile and characters who express the current state of affairs.

Having tried, and failed... since I had to resort to writing in code... to make a living as a hack, I read the current writers with enthusiasm. The official media is still relatively hide-bound and directed by advertising, but when a good piece of writing is found, it glows. We used joke that sentences should be no longer than 8 words, if the average reader is to keep up. This was a reference to attention span while rushing to work and trying to keep up with the latest news. Not, it must be insisted, a mocking reflection on the intelligence of our readership.

Who reads Henry James or Joseph Conrad for pleasure these days. Time is short and pulp fiction is the favourite genre on public transport round the world.
In fact, having found Twitter, 140 characters seems prolix in comparison to the constraints I experienced as a paid writer. 200 words was often the brief, to get in as much colour and excitement as would keep the busy reader happy.

As ever, the last laugh is on the writer...


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