My friend Bill Kovacic on his My Very Own Writing Coach Blog posted this question to followers who are mostly if not all, writers:
Have you ever given thought as to how to relate your writing to the next generation considering movies, TV, video games, music, etc. seemed to have taken over their interest? Have we invested our time, our lives in a dying art form?
I gave a lengthy, knee-jerk answer but am still gnawing on the question. If you boiled my initial reaction down to one word, it would be “NO.” I don’t think of future generations when I write. I just write what’s on my mind, whether fiction or non-fiction and hope that people who are interested in or need to understand the information embedded in my work will see it, enjoy it and learn something. I’m not sure if that’s right or wrong, but it’s how I am.
As to the dying art form comment, I think of reading as the dying art form (if you can call it an art form) more than writing. Young people are not interested in reading anything longer than a tweet. They want it to be short and sweet so they don’t have to think. They get bored easily because that is how we have trained them. And really, adults have become the same way. Off the cuff is the standard of the day for replies. We don’t think before we speak or write something. I don’t intend this to be a blanket statement but in general, I think it is true. I use the library a lot. And I am sad to say I see a lot fewer children in libraries looking for books than for computer time and looking through videos. Computer time, if they are using it to do schoolwork, research, and read material that is not empty or harmful is great. But most of the young people on the computer I notice are watching crap. They play video games or watch garbage containing humor or some other content that should not be seen as acceptable to children and teens.
I feel a thrill run through me when occasionally I see a Mom or Dad leaving the library with their children loaded down with books. I love to stand at the counter watching the titles of books a parent is checking out for the kids. Why do I love it? Because I read voraciously as a child. I was one of those kids loaded down with books. I remember the hours of entertainment reading Dr. Seuss, Curious George, the Boxcar kids, Little Women, and a million other classics. I also devoured biographies of historical figures, sports heroes, people who had achieved great things and was inspired. I read science books, history, and occasionally a “How-to” book. I remember the excitement of learning, developing an enchantment with words. I learned to write from reading. I learned to communicate in a way I could not articulate in the spoken word because I was painfully shy and insecure.
Reading is dying, thus writing books will wane. The way culture moves so quickly through trends, technology, and ideologies (the latter of which have turned to the bizarre becoming normal), to say that my youngest grandchildren will one day live in a world where books and reading will be discouraged or simply wane into obscurity may not be too far-fetched. I think for Christmas this year I will get them books or artistic things.
Next post will be more on the wonders of reading. Stay tuned.