I still have a file folder of “Clips” and one labeled “letterhead/env.” Back in the query + writing sample + SASE days I was regularly pulling from both. Today, these files are relics, and their demise, I must say, is something I rejoice in every single working day.
In place of this cumbersome triumvirate, of course, we have the writer’s website. Or had. As newly minted as it is, website is even beginning to sound fossilized. It could be an early sign of a burgeoning linguistic trend — all nouns resistant to being “verbed” are but one or two usages from the dustbin — or perhaps it is a web-specific phenomenon: site simply too static to survive in the transmutable wide world of the web. Blog, on the other hand, is a crackerjack. Monosyllabic and itself born of a transmutation, it’s got the noun-verb status and, what’s more, knows how to use it. Likewise, internet presence is still hanging in there, extending its run by making the most of its non-specificity.
The upshot: Without a blog, without an active online presence, the writer’s website is nothing but a filed away folder of clips. To open it, we must post. The circulating assumption (formally known as conventional wisdom) is clear on this: to not blog, tweet, tumblr, pin or otherwise update is to petrify online, even as one might be thriving offline.
I, for instance, have all but hardened into stone, having not posted since November. But I’ve been busy. Writing.
The odd truth of it: internet absence may be a far better indicator of a good working writer—or at least a paid and productive one—than internet presence. That we believe the exact opposite reflects the capsized logic that rules of late. Like how the more cushy we make our day-to-day lives, the more stress we feel; or how an envelope stamped URGENT is never urgent and not even important and most the time can be tossed unread. And then there’s our incongruous willingness to shell out big bucks for variously sized rectangular boxes and data streams that do nothing but deliver content, coupled with our steadfast refusal to pay even a dime for the actual content—as if (and yes, it’s a somewhat simplified analogy) happily paying UPS, while demanding the package itself be free.
Certainly every other era has had its share of nonsense to contend with, and consequences far more scary. Which is to say that while, yes, today’s circulating assumptions often baffle and even irk me, I do get that witch-hunts are much worse.