Monday, 29 February 2016

Two routes considered.

This week's discourse is an extended ramble comparing the virtues of independent versus traditional publishing.

The rise of the internet enabled a cultural shift primarily responsible for the emergence of independent art and artists around the world.  Those millions, including the writer and now free to share personal opinions to a mass audience ~ unfettered by either common sense or editorial supervision ~ continue to be enamored of the new found ability.  Fascination with it remains sufficient to ignore the routine misery visited upon their fellows by the variety of illegal and unethical behaviors discovered and developed through aid of the technology.  For a massive destruction wrought by software easing both theft of intellectual property and publishing it has also been the well-documented if less-admitted result despite factual reality.  Industries topple as wealth concentrates into fewer hands and the masses demand further erosion of the societal fabric that binds in a mad rush for creative and intellectual liberation.  A world less democratic is the certain end though oligarchs created by the ongoing rush insist otherwise.  These are facts well-established and while representing old news they provide background to the discussion that follows.

While none of us live in a vacuum the writer is positioned to document a contextual example of this specific cultural phenomenon.

The writer began pursuit of a career in the arts without intent.  The genetic accident of artistic talent was revealed early as accepted practice among my siblings who without exception were gifted with a variety of abilities.  Each of them far surpassed those I would eventually discover and claim through practice as my own.

Like most other products of nurture and nature the writer evolved under the strong influence cast by his closest fellows.

The result of later efforts though often less impressive demonstrations of brilliance than made by siblings were perhaps strengthened by their creators' abundance of stubborn determination.  A final aptitude, that for survival, is also an inheritance and thus not a claim the writer could otherwise stake.  The circumstances intervening though left unexplained speak plain enough, and the writer accepts them without qualification.

A man may choose but once his poison before living then and always with result.

The pen was the choice made early by the writer though pursuits both athletic and self-destructive would demand focus to keep body and mind together in the earliest days.  The internet was yet a dream realized only by military analysts and Silicon Valley promoters in search of venture capital and keys to the future when the die was cast.  With school boy literary efforts published, the delight experienced as result of early musical performances soon established a permanent magnetism for the arts.  Linking the talents was a natural step and the attraction in time confirmed as career choice.

The writer's meandering path was thus established well in advance of the world altering rise of the internet.

That such a career choice would be available for independent consideration was unimaginable prior to the rise of the World Wide Web for the writer and his fellows.  In the time before it there was no similar model or concept of information and communication sharing available to the masses.  Thus what are now known as traditional business models serviced all industries while careers based on the requirements of them were the sole available options.

In a world thus aligned the writer first pursued a career in literature with focus on prose and poetry.

A secondary career pursuit as songwriter in popular music augmented with early work as performer was accepted as necessary to survival.  While early reviews were positive the competitive realities of traditional vocational practice in both industries was no less demanding than experienced by the modern practitioner.

With fewer avenues of opportunity in existence though the field was less populated it also featured a playing field of relative quantum size.

The modern internet while populated with a novelist, songwriter, performer, filmmaker, painter, musician, insert-your-artistic-pursuit-here, on every virtual corner is an arena of sufficient scale to allow space for them.  That a free-for-all is the result so far should be no surprise when considering the backlog of frustrated artistic dreams created by the traditional model as unfulfilled desires were unleashed by internet technology.  Now anyone that wants to be is either an artist or a critic with an individual pulpit from which to sell their work or promote their ideology.

The inmates have taken over the asylum is a statement heard in some corners in response to the phenomenon.

Thus a choice exists for those inclined to make it.  The artist today is free to decide under which set of vocational circumstance his or her career will be pursued.  A question of real import is presented by the decision to proceed as independent or seek support of the traditional business models.

Functional differences of approach and expectation are required in both cases if satisfaction is to be received from either.

Though an undeniable gift the curse of beguiling independence lies with individual responsibility while the evil of dazzling tradition is relief of personal control.  A hard value exchanged for another is required by each and the artist may or may not be best served by the choice.  The answer is possible only to wonder at now as history prevents discovery of it sure as the world's evils could not be returned to Pandora's Box.

That none ride for free despite the apparent change in circumstance is also noted in passing.

I will mention before proceeding further the voice of experience is used here as a tool of reference only and not to either advise or suggest alternatives.  A personal trail carved by the writer is the sole collection of circumstance upon which comment is made.  No guarantee of result is implied or assured by these revelations though the reader as ever is advised to avoid similar activity.

The entertainment of writer and reader is the sole purpose of this missive.

For neither biography nor suggested course of action is from this pulpit presented.  To those seeking either I can only hasten to recommend they look elsewhere with urgency as neither exists in any form here.  These are personal experiences related for either humor or object lesson on behalf of writer and reader and nothing more.

No advice is offered here as neither is it sought.

Offers made to the writer in earlier days, harsh judged and spurned, faded before experience in industrial practice led to appreciation of the folly.  In both literature and music support first granted would later be withdrawn due to behavior and performance either unacceptable or unexplained.  Bridges burned were many and youthful indiscretion despite allowance granted for talent in time give way to habit unbecoming with unremarkable sales results.  Tastes change with time and what was once bright devotion fades to old news with often stunning swiftness.  What appeared an endless afternoon approached the sunset before the writer could declare a mind both difficult and demanding.

The real truth of opportunity is that it's quick in passing.

The rise of the internet was thus a rescue of sorts for the writer.  A discarded fugitive of traditional models both literary and musical its power was a stunning revelation that cast a broken career in new light.  For many dreams of all kinds once set aside by tradition are granted new life by technology.  In both fields explosions of new entrants first aided then swamped each industry as legions of previously barred avocational practitioners overwhelmed a never before open and seeming new market.  The writer's stalled careers in both music and literature were, in due time, re-established.  Though the terms under which they function reflect the new reality of business models devastated by the source of resurrection.  Swing a dead cat today and you're sure to hit a musician or writer no matter how you might seek to avoid it.

I state for the record no cats were harmed writing this post.

The fact is without the internet and the resulting acceptance of independent art and artists worldwide it's probable I wouldn't have a career.  While the latter half of my seventeen year life as a recording artist was label supported it began as an indie music act.  With work on what will be my third novel now underway meanwhile I'm thrilled to be a self-published novelist courtesy of Amazon and the remorseless internet.  That such opportunity now exists ubiquitous would in my youth be considered poorly contrived fantasy.  The reality of its occurrence is proof of both the future's unpredictable nature and a fool's good fortune.

The writer is well-served in either case.

In every instance however opinion is only that even if well-informed.  The writer fixes that awareness before his report of it.  A desire to avoid claiming domain over experience aside from the personal is also much sought in published works.  Judgement is then left to reader and listener in matters of entertainment, while individual taste must always be accepted as a routine matter of no account.  This has long been my creed though specific purpose in each instance has ever been the relentless aim.  The true satisfaction of the work for the writer in all cases lives in its completion.  Its appreciation by an audience while absolute in necessity is a temporal consideration external to this.

The works manifested by doing create the satisfaction of being for the writer.

Count me thus in the corner of pursuing either avenue of vocational practice for your individual artistic talent, literary, musical, or otherwise.  As a fellow whose attempted both the writer appreciates the metaphorical perspective of either fox or hound.  To each dedication is the sole requirement for sustained creative success according to the historical record.  The choice remains a luxury to be savored only by those in modern times however for as mentioned arts careers were not so long ago available to a chosen few.  By virtue of the internet the way is now open to any with limited aversion to risk and the determination to complete artistic works.  To corral the world's notice of it remains a story told elsewhere.

For the writer meanwhile, choice of career path like reward, appreciation, or criticism, remains a concern secondary to doing good work.

            Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
February 29, 2016

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