Is frequency of public response synonymous with worth?
The contemporary feedback phenomenon fascinates me. I am convinced that today's writers are becoming more dangerously cognizant and dependent on automatic/quick public input than our predecessors ever were.
...Nowadays, if our prose doesn't yield fan emails, online reviews at booksellers, or discussion on fan sites/listservs -- we wonder what's wrong with our writing.
...And I think it's because we all know how very easy it is to take that little step of offering feedback. When we don't get it, we can't help but wonder why.
Do these expectations affect our work?
Do we seek out particularly incendiary topics in order to prove to ourselves that someone out there cares? Do we censor our stories and novels because people Twitter negatively about prefaces or books with serial killers or talking cats?
Awareness of my potential audience is second nature by now. I've never been one to rant, confess, or otherwise gush in writing. The act of writing helps me focus all that appropriately.
I appreciate comments, but I don't write anything expressly to get a reaction. I write because I'm moved, and if I'm moved, others will be, too.
The fact that comments are archived forever (or until some server crashes) doesn't influence my commenting. All a comment means is that I felt that way and had to say something at that moment. It's wrong to hold people to their comments forever, but then, the commenter had the chance to decide what to say/write at the time.
Technology only increases the speed at which we write. It shouldn't and really doesn't speed up our decisions what to write and send out.
UPDATE (03/11/09): Yesterday, Josephine Damian blogged about the dangers of authors revealing too much on their blogs, citing a Globe and Mail article by Guy Gavriel Kay. I commented:
Sure, blogging isn't for everyone, but in my case organizing my thoughts into more or less daily posts has helped my writing. I could write without blogging, but one feeds the other.
If blogging didn't exist, authors would still speak at signings and events, and people come to the same conclusions about them from their comments. Not blogging only delays the inevitable.
Kay's article seems to say authors have brought negative attention on themselves by making themselves available. If a fan takes a blog post the wrong way or chooses to use his Net access to bash an author, that's the fan's, not the author's responsibility. Authors may choose to use their Net access to try and rally fans, but each fan makes the final decision to do as the author says or not.