Gene’s articles are the first thing I read every Sunday morning. I grab the Post that morning, and along with my cup of coffee, I settle down with the Washington Post Magazine. Flipping to the end and reading the column that Gene Weigarten dishes out every week titled – Below the Beltway – is an enlightening and fun way to start the day.
This week’s column – How to get Rich Writing. (If Post asks for a Login, try this alternative site ) is an excerpt from his speech that he delivered at the National Writers Workshop at Florida the past month. Check out the writers who attended and spoke at the workshop. There’s a blurb on Gene and a few other popular names (including Dave Barry and Sandeep Junnarkar of SAJA) and is worth a read and spending time exploring the heavily linked site would well worth be your time.
The article prompted me to write this post. Well, I mean, how could you ignore such a loud screaming title such as that with the lure of the money. Then it was written by Gene. Then again, we all kid ourselves into believing we are writers out here. I don’t need more excuses than that.
He starts off with
I want to begin by dispelling the harmful myth that writing is a dying art form. It isn’t. It’s very much alive. Getting paid for writing is a dying art form.
It may be helpful to review the history of writing so we can see how we got into this predicament and how quickly and easily it can be resolved, at least for those of us with gas ovens.
Look at this line:
Rain did not “come down.”
Rain tintinnabulated upon the parched and steaming rooftops, drenched the chimney pots and belfries, the porticos and cornices, bathed the cupolas, cascaded through the downspouts, flickering the gas lamps, eddying in drains — ravenous, merciless and cleansing, rinsing the stench of the city like a torrent of appalling adjectival excess.
Now that is what you’d call breathing life, poetry and a story into the simple act of rain “coming down”.
And then proclaiming the death of good writing he continues on saying
Then the Internet happened, and everything went to hell for writers. As advertising bled to the Web, newspapers began to die or, more insidiously, to shrink. The reassuring sound of the thud of the morning paper in your driveway was replaced with a more gentle sound, like a sycamore leaf slowly settling to the ground. But more important was the fact that the Web came to be dominated by porn. Porn is not writer-intensive.
He is a funny guy. Not the kind that you’d start giggling and guffawing at a stand-up-comedy show, but the kind where you’d listen, let it sink in and then smile broadly and stupidly at the space in front of you, allowing the onlookers to raise a single eyebrow. As I see it, the sense of humor isn’t always something that everyone would pick up, thaw to right away or even understand. I don’t understand some of his references, but when I do, I find him subtle and to the point. That’s because he’s just not a writer, or a humorist, but because he’s a intelligent humor columnist. Read his ‘Pearls before Swine‘ (if you haven’t yet that is) which won his Pulitzer Prize and you’d know what I mean. The experiment conducted and the narrative of it go hand in hand in what one can classify as a perfect piece. Perfect in the tragic and sad status of our world mired in our busy lives, and perfect in the description of it which makes us stop and let sink the depth of the words that places the obvious on a platter, unhidden and raw.
So where does that leave ‘writing’? If each of us got a buck for a comment, we’d be rich too wouldn’t we? Too bad, we don’t live in the world where I could trade my blog for a year’s worth of free Starbucks coffee, or my fingers for a higher Technorati ranking, or even my capacity to work incessantly every night to churn a post into a profitable 401K plan. *sigh.
Though he is right. Since we live in bad economic times, being a blogger/writer/aspiring blogger-writer with an eye on the ultimate buck is still a better place to be in than say a shareholder at Fannie Mae, or an ex-employee at Lehman’s.
Our comments make us rich. Such love, such wealth, such happiness. Can’t beat that Gene.