The Rise of Writers Versus Readers, a theory presented with no evidence whatsoever…

So, I have this theory as to why there are as many aspiring writers as there are readers, and why it seems like there has been an explosion of writers in recent years. It has nothing to do with word processors. It has nothing to do with the rise of outlets for writing in the age of the internet.

I think it’s simpler than that. People are unfulfilled working in this country. People grind their lives away pursuing the goals of shareholders and stockholders and upper management and do not have work that interests them, if they have work at all. For the approximately 25-30% of the country unemployed or underemployed, this purposelessness is exacerbated by the general economic woes involved. Ergo, writing books is a home-based business that solves certain problems that home-based businesses often have.

1) Cost of entry is low. A word processor and a web connection and access to mail is all that is required to start.
2) It can actually lead to huge success, if one is dedicated and talented enough, unlike plumbing or envelope stuffing. This is not actually a scam.
3) The work is enjoyable. It is not a grind, most of the time, to sit in one’s cave and make stuff up.

With a down economic climate, and one in which real wages have not kept up with demand, we are going to see people get their hustle on, and try to work harder to make something more meaningful. That most work in this country is about as interesting as scraping your face against a cheese shredder only makes the interest in writing more so. Everyone who enjoys reading a book and wants to find a way to increase the annual income in a direction towards meaningful, soulful work will get the virus to scribble into the night.

It’s the economy. For the last twenty years, the Reagenomicon has decimated the middle class, and everyone needs to find something to get that hustle on, and get that income up, and find work that doesn’t involve layers of management and goals that make no sense most of the time and a culture of greed and efficiency that extricates surgically the soulfulness and joy of good, hard work.

I have no evidence for this. I have done no research. It’s only a theory.

Because writing books is hard, and reading them is fun. If more people had fulfilling work, that met their goals and desires financially, there would be more people just reading books and less people writing them.

(I’d still be writing them. This is my megaphone to shout at the world. I would be screaming from my mountaintop even if no one cared to listen. I’m like that. I suspect most of the writers I like best would also keep at it, because none of us are in this for the money nor do we actually make very much money.)


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2 responses to “The Rise of Writers Versus Readers, a theory presented with no evidence whatsoever…

  1. I've heard the same argument about there being more writers than poets since the late Seventies.

    Thomas McCormack, the famed fiction editor of St. Martin's Press, said the same thing about novels and novelists in THE FICTION EDITOR, THE NOVEL, AND THE NOVELIST which was printed in 1988, and this was when a vast majority of writers were using typewriters and very few were on the Internet.

    As a writing teacher, I've been stunned by the number of new writers who want to write but who don't read what they want to write. It's a formula for disaster, but until the rise of self-publishing, these folks were only hurting themselves and not inflicting their cliches and bad writing on others.


  2. I wonder if we couldn't track the real economic recovery of our nation by measuring the slushpile at Tor's offices (or Asimov's or F&SF…). Some brave economist should get on that.


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