I don’t blog often.
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UPDATES: For the past couple of weeks, I’ve swung between abandoning manuscripts or developing further – neither decision has stuck for any of them, but I’m excited to return to writing/editing as the end of my self-imposed break nears (4 days away). Though I might start writing today because it’s a great feeling to be excited while actually writing.
In the chaotic modern realm of American civilization, it can be difficult to remain authentically aligned with a purpose announced in the past. Some of the difficulty arises in nebulous external expectations that cry for consistency, despite humanity’s inherent nature of being in flux.
Especially when those expectations are wound up with the fail-conomy that claims to be Capitalism (despite not having any of the foundational components for that system to properly operate).
The American “Capitalist” ethos loves the concept of consistency, so much so that it has become a hallmark of successful companies. Consistency allows the average joe to keep rolling along, without having to question why they’re rolling in the first place. Thus, to the average American capitalist, a proclaimed purpose of intent should be announced, then rarely (if ever) change, purely for the sake of projected success.
After all, how else do we create a consistent market in which we conduct our dealings? If we are not consistent, how can we expect our customers to be consistent in consuming?
Well, let’s explore that for a second. Are customers consistent? Some can be, sure. But the overarching entirety of all consumers everywhere is much too large of a scope since there are always outliers of every kind. Let’s narrow it down to readers (fiction consumers).
Certainly some readers are consistent in their aesthetics. They read one centralized genre and don’t stray from that. These readers know what they want and don’t waste time/$$ exploring outside of their boundaries. But are all readers like this?
Not at all. Many readers appreciate a wide range of genres and employ a willingness to read outside of any restrained aesthetic. There are various reasons for this, but what matters most is that these readers are not consistent.
Just like humans in general, some readers are in constant flux. Not only that, but their aesthetics can be persuaded. These mutable readers are partial proof that consistency is not the overwhelming key to a writer’s success.
Consistency can greatly help in a capitalist-ethos marketplace by conforming to industry members who focus heavily on fixed readers, which makes commercial writing easier to churn out and sell.
So, when it comes to consistency of purpose, it is generally understood that a writer’s purpose maintains consistency until the day it doesn’t anymore – in which case, the prior purpose should be replaced with another purpose that will maintain “consistency” once more. Yes, there is an ironic tint to this.
A quick example is Anne Rice and her progression as a writer that was inexplicably intertwined with her personal religious affiliation. When Rice left the vampire genre to develop Christian fiction, it was done with a solid intention that – unlike the prior purpose – this fresh purpose would be the consistent one. Rice is an example because it didn’t end there, as she went to abandon Christian fiction after changing her religious affiliation again. Now, she is back in the paranormal/supernatural genres and still, maintains an illusion of consistency towards her work as an author. But what will stop her from changing again in the near future?
((EDIT: To be fair, Rice appears consistent in a way, but in the context of this discussion, she is simply authentic in aligning her beliefs with her works – a capitalist consistency would hope that she had stuck to her main genre and remained there without any alteration)).
In a general sense, most writers are not consistent about their purpose through passing decades. I suspect that instead, many writers work very hard on crafting an illusion that they are (consistent).
Further speculation could be syphoned about this, but I wonder if the amount of effort that writers put into creating an consistent author profile/personality was put into their actual work instead… how developed our collective fictional creations would be compared to the average development seen today.
Life is varied and ever-changing. We cycle through patterns and prefer to organize events based upon their similarity in personal perception… but that is simply an attempt to comprehend the overwhelming Life around us – akin to collecting buckets of water from an ocean.
Consistency, in a grand sense, is an illusion.
A modern writer could employ this meta-understanding to their own intentions and objectives. Understanding this, a writer’s purpose is inherently mutable. Attempts for consistency shift from being placed on the author as a product (originating from the previously mentioned ethos), but rather on the craft of their work instead (if consistency of craft is desired).
This shift from revolving around the author as a person, to focusing on the stories being developed is beneficial for a number of reasons. Lessening the nagging external expectations in personal objectives is just one step on the path to art-centric creation and a step away from the old world Celebrity-like status that is often lauded to be What a Writer Is (take your pick of any author who was well known in the mid-90s for examples).
I call this approach ‘old world’ because that is what it is. The focus on the illusion of an individual, the creation of a meta-character, a perceived mental construct, is similar to societal obsessions around celebrities, powerful names/figures, and politicians. It most likely comes from a distortion of understanding archetypal roles in society and a belief that consistency of personhood is an objective reality.
A term like ‘old world’ though, immediately suggests that there is a ‘new world’ waiting to be discovered – which, there is!
If we look at society for the past two decades, we can see massive changes brewing for almost all aspects of humanity. Literature and writing are not immune to this, as all artforms maintain close proximity to humanity’s expression of comprehension.
Surely, the Internet had a great hand in this as the technological tool has been wielded for great (and minor) justice by many, many, many. The Internet is no longer fringe, Internet participants are no longer a minority, and the consequences of this will continue to unfold as society evolves.
So, if we glance at the Internet for hints as to what this new world may be – we find things like self-publishing becoming developed further each and every day, forums and websites based around freely sharing fiction, serials/articles/novels/whatever being offered is increasingly common. The inherent creation of events like NaNoWriMo has widened Writing as a Craft for the Everyman, similar to how photoshop and the Internet accelerated Visual Art into unseen territories as well.
How does this differ from the Old World? As can be seen, there is little focus and spotlight on specific individuals (except for those sites/groups stuck in old world mentalities that try to transfer such paradigms into the new world’s domain, i.e. the mass amount of for-profit writing platforms). In these New World-like communities, everyone is recognized as a grunt soldier, working to prove that they’ll earn their way to become an Old-world concept of Celebrity – while rarely realizing that this concept is a dying one and that instead, they should be seeking to develop new-world concepts of writing/authorship to be expounded upon by future generations.
Here’s a run-down of a simple dualistic perspective towards these realms; The New World operates on Community, on Authenticity and Exploration, on the Nobility of Process and comprehension of the Meta. The Old World operates on Consumption, on Illusion and Polarization, on the Glory of Riches and ignorance of the Other.
Finally, in this realm of thought, the only true consistency that can exist is the consistency of flux – which is illusionary consistency created through perception. Coming to this understanding is freeing in that the author is not forced to waste precious energy on crafting a fake, meta-creation of their Self and instead, are able to freely explore their Authentic Self while progressing their writing craft.
– Dominika (July 17)
TL;DR – Read it. Jk. Here we go; Consistency of the Author Self is FAKE in Capitalism (almost as fake as capitalism itself) and is focused on so that $$$$ can be shuffled about the industry while stroking Old-World Celebrity/Ego pathologies. Understanding the Illusionary nature of Consistency and Old World/New World dichotomy in society is beneficial for writers who wish to focus on the art of their work and progress the evolution of literature in humanity.