I answer, this is a good place to start looking.
The article, written by asks a simple question: why have writers cleaned up their acts?
First off, let’s start with something. We haven’t. Not really. I’ve been to plenty of writer workshops and conventions, gotten loud, drunk and / or obnoxious with plenty of writers, poets, and editors. I’ve seen famous authors tramp around cross dressed, I’ve had to distract hotel security while parties were disbanded. I’ve had to search college grounds for hours for a fellow passed out poet.
Writers haven’t changed. Not really. Something else has changed, something has risen up which the author, Ms Amy Shearn, tries to get to, but doesn’t seem to find is, it is not the writers, but the business, the entity the THING that is publication has changed.
I dare say a lot of Bukowskis and Keroacs are being left forgotten in this climate. The Gonzo journalists and the over the top playwrites are side stages and personal blogs. What has happened is that the publishers aren’t taking those risks anymore.
Frankly, there is no reason too. Just like big music signing 10 small bands in hopes that two make it, why not just publish 10 unknown authors? Quantity over quality. Does that happen all the time? I have no idea, I am outside, unpublished. I have an advantage though, writing is not my job. Will it be one day? I can hope, yes?
At some point the greatness of an artist can overshadow their bad behavior. But at the same time, an artist’s bad behavior can very easily overshadow their art. In the business of making money, great art doesn’t really amount to anything. It is great sales that are important. If you are selling better than your behavior, or your behavior is contributing to your sales, then carry on. Otherwise…
Add on to all of this the propagation of blogs, micro-press, online publication, even Twitter and Facebook. No longer are books the only way a creative piece can get out. The issue with this is that no longer are people just buying books to find stories. You can be entertained instantly online.
So what has changed? There is more content. BIG publishers expect you to be well behaved (as Ms Shearn asks, are you TV presentable?) and more importantly, they expect you to produce. The audience has been distracted by the internet. Hold on, gotta check facebook.
Produce? Sure. Behave? Why? If I can’t make a living as a writer anyway (as many professionals have told me) then why clean up my act? (my act is no Chinaski, btw, but I have considered it before. Sometimes you get in a scrappin’ mood, you know? Except a poet gets into a scrappin’ mood and runs home to write about it rather than actually, you know, scrap.) And I would not be the only writer out there causing a ruckus, drinking until late hours.
So where are all the badly behaved writers? They are out there Ms Shearn, I promise you. Behaving badly probably as I type this.
But then again, if this bar didn’t have WiFi, I’d be doing something else.
P.S. As a postscript I’d like to talk to all the boring life writers out there. Go out and live. Seriously. Do you have to drink and party and sleep with strangers? Only near me. Go live. Hike. Travel. Learn and instrument. Dance with strangers. Stop and smell the flowers. Plant the flowers, and some vegetables. Learn about something hard, like calculus or the history of rope. Go to Horror conventions (see point number one). Live. Live. Live. Otherwise you’ll find yourself lost and writing about writing. Live, experience things.