Why the hell am I doing this? Again.
After ten years of writing on the internet, it is not making much sense to me anymore. Why do I do it? What is all this for? Why am I giving away my literary labors for free all the time and selling myself short, again and again? These are questions that come to mind.
You or I, would think that if a person puts an immense amount of work into something and gets little back, after say five or six years, that it would be time to quit and move on to something else. If a person is still at it after ten years and still getting very little back, you or I, might think this person is nuts.
This person is me.
Writing on the internet is like a drug addiction in reverse.
It is an addiction, but where drug addicts take drugs to forget themselves, internet writers write things on the internet because they want to make something out of themselves. The drug addict seeks to obliterate their ego and the internet writer seeks to make known and solidify their ego. The drug addict can’t stop doing drugs because they are addicted to the momentary feeling of no-ego, whereas the internet writer can’t stop posting their writings on the internet because they are addicted to the momentary feeling of ego-gratification.
Both the internet writer and the drug addict struggle to stop. Both the drug addict and the internet writer are ultimately destroyed by their addiction, if they don’t get clean.
I have tried to quit writing on the internet numerous times. For seven years, I dutifully kept a literary blog by the name of Absurdistry. I wrote strange, mostly fictional stories on this blog, weekly, and had a religious following of two people (both of whom died during the course of my maintaining the blog). Absurdistry is filled with postings with titles such as: The End Of Absurdistry, My Final Post, No More, Calling It Quits. But, after a week or so of writing in the non-internet world, my ego would start to feel like a nobody, and I would end up writing and posting another story on my blog.
I guess I craved readers. This was my high (and still is).
For the past few years I have been writing and posting on Medium (a site specifically for internet writers) and my newer blog, The Fantastic Life Of Nobody In Particular. I spend hours a day, several days a week, stuck at my desk, writing and editing these stories and essays, to feed my ego’s craving to be somebody on-line. I always end up feeling like I am getting little in return. Even after ten years of giving this hard labor away for free.
Why do I do it? What the hell is the point of internet writing? Couldn’t I be doing so many better, more fulfilling things with my time like sitting in the sun? I tell myself that it does not matter that I get little back from what I write and post on the internet because one day I will collect a lot of my writings and publish them in a real, paper and ink, book of my own. I am just using the immediate gratification that the internet gives writers as a way to get my writing done. Eventually all of this will lead towards legitimate publication.
I have been telling myself this for ten years. Still, nothing has happened.
But isn’t the content and quality of what I write effected by having this kind of motivation? Wouldn’t I be writing more literary and in depth things if I was not trying to shape my writing to fit demands of readers on the internet? Don’t internet writers have to dumb stuff down to make their writing more ingestible to readers on the internet? Don’t internet writers end up writing for readers with attention deficit disorder? Doesn’t this compromise the quality of the work somehow?
I think so.
I have probably done great damage to the literary quality of my writing, by writing on the internet over the years. And for what? It is not like many people read what I write. The internet is not a good fit for a writer like myself. I made a mistake by thinking that somehow the internet could perpetuate and grow my literary career. The internet demands crap to fill its gluttonous bestial belly with, and, well, I have contributed to its dietary demands.
The internet is not a place for a writer who wants to make art.
You see, writing on the internet takes the art out of writing. Readers on the internet do not want art. They want quick, simplified, cold, hard, facts. They want fast food stories. This may be the future of writing and reading since my wife, who was once a prolific reader, can no longer hold a book in her hands for longer than twenty minutes without having to check her phone.
I hate that as a writer, I am contributing to things moving in this direction, by writing for the internet. I hate what I have let the internet do to my writing. But I can’t seem to stop.
A writer like myself can be destroyed by this addictive need for immediate gratification. Perhaps I have already been destroyed by it, but I keep posting my writing on the internet because I no longer care about my literary health, I just need my next like.
I tell myself that quality will stand the test of time. Even though what I write on the internet is now obscured by everything else, there will come a time in a hundred years or so when some eccentric professor or rebellious, alienated, intelligent kid will discover my writings on the internet. Absurdistry and The Fantastic Life Of Nobody In Particular, in the future, will become the equivalent to what, say, Franz Kafka’s The Trial or Celine’s Journey To The End Of Night is now.
I like this idea. It is this idea that keeps me writing on the internet, as deluded as this idea may be.
But I think I have written enough on the internet. I think it is time for me to hunker down and work at the non-immediate gratification labor of composing a novel in the solitude of my garage. Day after day, I need to work at finishing these novels, which have been collecting dust on my hard drive.
This is what an internet addiction can do to a writer. It causes the writer to neglect the work that brings them more long term satisfaction in their writing lives.
I am sure there will be withdraw symptoms.
My ego will want that hit of immediate gratification that comes from knowing someone is reading my words shortly after I have posted them on-line. But I must abstain. I must get sober and focus on the hard and isolated literary work that is required for writing any kind of lasting, quality, literary work. After all, there are only so many writing hours remaining in my lifetime.
So this is it.
I am getting clean.
I will not be posting any more of my writings on the internet until I have a novel done.
I am going to find a way to disable internet access on my computer so that after a week or so the pain of not having my quick fix will not force me to take another hit. There will be nowhere for me to turn but to continue to labor away in the thankless, isolated, non-immediate-ego-gratification, hard work world of no longer being an internet writer.
So long for now, internet readers.
The End (for now).