Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Don't Quote Me

Many people have the wrong idea about blogs, especially about personal blogs. Seeing their lives through someone else's eyes is seldom pleasant, especially when the view is unflattering.

Like paper journals where people keep secret thoughts, wrongs done, drama chronicled, life's dramas are kept like moments frozen in time. Pain and hurt and heart break color the words and seem to be an unreliable truth, but they are the writer's truth seen through their emotions and their experiences. Anyone looking from outside, especially those involved, would see things in a different light and perspective. Ask a villain and he will see himself as the hero and vice versa.

Relationships are complex. In her heart of hearts, Cinderella knew she was abused, but she looked for the small moments of happiness and was glad she was able to remain in her father's home, her family home, whatever the cost. She knew her stepmother was an evil woman and her stepsisters spoiled brats, but Cinderella was determined to find happiness wherever she could. It was a fairy tale after all.

Had Cinderella been a writer or kept journals, maybe she would have been more willing to put the truth -- her truth -- out there. Her stepsisters and stepmothers would have seen things in a different light. Cinderella was a burden they were stuck with because Cinderella was the only reason they were able to live in her father's home and waste her father's wealth. They couldn't get rid of her, so they mistreated her, abused her, made her their servant when they could no longer afford to pay the servants.

No doubt Kim Jong-il saw himself as the saviour of his people driving them toward an equal footing with the leading nations of the world. That he had to starve his people, take foreign aid and food for them and turn it into nuclear arms while he lived in luxury and splendor was of no importance as long as he got what he wanted. The rest of the world sees Kim Jong-il as a tyrant, a despot, a terrorist working hard to hold the rest of the world hostage with his nuclear capabilities, standing on the backs of his people and grinding them into the dirt. He is a villain. He sees himself as a hero.

As I've said many times, it's all about perspective. There may be a landfill at your feet, but if you live on the cliff above it and your view is a perfect unbroken vista of trees and cities and sky, you never see the landfill.

In blogs, the writers use dialogue to dramatize an incident or a moment. It's not meant to be a direct quote, but the gist of a conversation. The writer isn't writing a factual article but dramatizing a bit of their life. The dialogue is accurate in what it says even if it's not a direct quote, or is a boiled down version of a quote. It's life. It's art. It's gossip. It's the aroma of life. It's drama.

Since the Internet offered a place to be heard, people rushed to put their perspectives and views out there. It reminds me of a book co-authored by Arthur C. Clarke, The Light of Other Days, in which young people were freed from social constraints by having wormholes installed in their heads. Young people had no qualms about having sex in public on benches and on the street, taking public displays to affection to a whole new level. Through the wormholes in their heads they could see everything: past, present, and future. There were no more secrets. All lies were laid bare for public consumption, so why hide the truth of their lives or their bodies? Young people walked around naked and lived their lives in the open. In a way, the Internet is similar, allowing people a public voice where they lay bare their secrets -- and their drama.

Enter indie publishing with instant access to programs that allow writers to get their books and dreams into print and out for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (which has recently succumbed to financial pressure), Apple, and small presses. Writers don't need to slave over their words, put them into manuscript format, and send them to traditional publishers and agents while they wait for an answer, collecting rejections and rewriting endlessly until someone, anyone, in publishing gives them the nod. Access is available and writers, good, mediocre, and bad, are taking advantage.

Indie authors consider themselves heroes. Traditional publishers and agents see them as villains, as the enemy. Vanity publishing has become independent publishing/self-publishing and has gained credibility. The world is changing and we may not be far from Arthur C. Clarke's vision of the future -- without portable wormholes for now.

In the meantime, bloggers and writers will continue writing their truth no matter how many people cry foul. Their families and friends may not be pleased, but their voices will be heard -- are being heard -- have been heard -- and they will continue to write with and without direct quotes.

This is life as art and art as life.

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