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About Writing Right: The Blog


A strange yet interesting question came up on a forum the other day. Someone wanted to know if people would still be reading books in the future and, if not, should he consider finding a new "passion." A number of people jumped in, some prematurely and others with off-track responses. Of course, my literary kiddies and kiddiettes, I know the answer to that question. And, I didn't hesitate jumping in with it. Here's what I told the petitioner.

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Well, unfortunately, the Queen of Wrong careened off-track with her answer, again. You didn't ask if you could earn a living as an author. You asked if people will still be reading books in the future. Similarly, you never even implied that you want to become a professional, full-time author. Nor did you mention an author of what. Books? Magazine and newspaper articles? Short stories? Technical reports? Novels? You indicated none of the above. To assume that you want to do so isn't at all a given, so Queenie has taken another major step off the tracks. Let's see if we can't answer the question you actually asked and not worry about someone else's shoot-from-the-lip interpretation of what you asked.


The answer to your question is, quite simply, yes. If you have a dream of becoming an author, by all means pursue it. People will still be reading books throughout your lifetime. They will, that is, unless our educational system becomes so corrupted by the political machinations entrenching the Teachers Union that the politburo decides in its infinite wisdom that reading is just too damned laborious and tiresome to teach anymore. In that case, reading teachers will probably be converted into experts on the automated conversion of text to speech. Then, students will only have to push a button and sit back to "read" whatever they want.


Barring that possibility, reading is likely to be around forever simply because people like to read. They like looking things up and learning, and they enjoy immersing themselves in strange new worlds that can be accessed only, so far at least, through reading.


There's another less obvious element to your question, though, that Queenie also missed. That's not knowing just how strongly embedded a desire to write you harbor. Some people can take writing or leave it. Others feel so passionately about identifying with the world of writing that they couldn't stop their wordsmithing to save their souls. The implied meaning in the question you asked is that you can take writing or leave it—pursue writing as your "dream" or drop it and find a new passion.


If that's the case, I suggest that, instead of worrying about whether or not books will still be around ten or twenty years from now, you should question what a dream is and whether or not you actually yearn to be a writer. If not, you're talking about writing as a hobby or a pastime to pursue when you have nothing else to do. That's not necessarily a "bad" thing, but I'm not sure it's enough to see an author through all the hard times he'll encounter along the rocky road to success.


Whatever that word means.


Writing for some people is hard work. For others, it's a pleasant diversion. Still others see it as a necessity to communicating effectively. A select few feel it as an all-consuming passion, a fire burning deep down inside their bellies. How you look at it will tell whether or not you should pursue writing or invest your time more effectively in something else. Knowing that could help shape your entire future.


Smoke if you've got 'em.

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D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack.com.

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