I think you nailed it. I've seen those attitudes. I do have that (admittedly grudging) respect for amateur musicians, by the way, as much for the getting up there as for the skills.
I believe you can do both. Write a short column for a newspaper or magazine and you can still make music.
I think the dichotomy does exist and it is due to familiarity. Most people grow up involved with music to some degree or know those who are: school band or chorus, a rock group that plays around town, local amateur orchestras, church choirs and the like. Perhaps just singing along to the hit music of the day with friends. I performed in operas in college but no one thinks less of the effort because I didn’t go on to become the lead basso profundo at the Met.Writing, especially creative writing, is very different. I suspect for most folks writing consists of school assignments and thank you notes to a grandparent. And that applies to almost everyone they know. Any writing they encounter, even for avid readers, is likely to be professional whether it’s a novel or a newspaper or magazine article. The idea that writing might be done for personal enjoyment is foreign to them. And before the internet how many outlets for amateur writing existed? Not many. Telling someone you just finished a poem or short story means little because they have no experience, or appreciation, of what goes into it. There is a presumption that any writing which has an intellectual or emotional effect must come from professionals; it is beyond the ability of the average acquaintance. The internet has opened up avenues for amateur writers to express themselves without the need or expectation of professional publication. It has the added advantage of not being imposed on the reader since they can come to it, or not, as they wish. No one thinks less of a blogger because they don’t go on to be the next Tom Clancy, James Rollins or Philip Craig. (Craig’s Martha’s Vineyard mysteries are delightful, by the way.) There’s no need to risk your living income to indulge a passion for writing and the internet offers an accepted public face for your efforts. Not bad for those who write for enjoyment, not income or world fame.I’ll shut up know before this becomes a ten page essay. Thanks for a good, thought provoking topic.Jeff The Bear
I wonder, though, LFP, if it would be different if the music you were playing was your own - the way writing is your own. But I think there is a difference between how people 'receive' music and writing. Music goes into the ear. Writing goes straight to the mind. Music might charm, or soothe, or make us want to get up and dance. There is an intimacy to it that is still impersonal. But with writing, the author - a person - is standing there with me. A good author can manage invisibility. And the words are that of another person (not an instrument), so the author is always up for viewing, so to speak.I wonder what it would be if the music you are speaking of is vocal rather than instrumental. Ah well, just off the cuff natterings! Thanks for the thoughtful post.
Where I live, there are a couple places for open mic nights for poetry. I could draw many parallels. In fact, one of these places, I remember doing a short, three song accoustic gig and we were sandwiched between two poets.Certainly not common, but there can be an audience.From a short fiction standpoint, writing groups are all over the place. Up until three years ago, I had no notion of what a writing group did, but now, its feels very similar to "jamming".While I agree, writing is a solo activity, when we meet, we share and critique each other's work. In fact, for the last two years, we've done collaborative projects.Now, we are now standing up in front of an audience and reading our writing for their enjoyment. But, we are reading it amongst the group...
great post - I think there's lots of interesting parallels. As Deek said - I also think there's many opportunities for collaboration - although it takes different forms. There's still an audience, and craft in what you do, and feelings or ideas conveyed. And occasionally, beautiful things emerge.rino
I think there are probably more parallels when it comes to poetry and nonfiction than there are with writing fiction. There are people who write for club newsletters and such or local papers, and as Deek pointed out, some open mics have poetry readings (though in my limited experience, I hadn't seen that and forgot about it). But there are still major differences. Take the writing group example: yes, you *could* compare it to jamming, but there is one big difference. Generally speaking, jamming is an end in itself. People come to a jam to jam, and though they may also hope to improve skills by jamming, most of the time they want to improve in order to be better jammers, not because they want to get to a stage where they can be discovered (i.e. published). Writing groups are-again, generally speaking--intended primarily to be a means to an end. It's different.Interesting thoughts, everyone!
Very interesting post. I want to say blogging is the equivalent, and now b/c of the interwebs, you *can* be a perpetual amateur, whereas that was not possible at all in the just-print days. I think the difference is in the social circles: online, they're virtual. But you do have an audience here. I don't think to me your words would have more meaning if they were professionally sanctioned.
Hm...I think I tend to agree with you, LFP. The only explanation I can think of regarding the lack of parallels is that listening to music is generally (generally!) a more passive activity than reading. One need not personally invest effort in the enjoyment of a merry tune. The written word, on the other hand, demands that you seek it out, to acquire a medium and focus your attention on it. That said, when there is even a modicum of effort involved in their consumption of it, people set a higher bar for what they consider to be "good."
Interesting insight, Mike, and probably correct. Listening to music is pretty much passive, especially in some of its forms--you can go to a restaurant with live music and hang out with friends, only giving half an ear to what's going on. Doesn't require any work on your part.And I do think the virtualization of publishing is changing the face of writing in all sorts of ways. Once upon a time, there wasn't any way to reach an audience without making it into bulk print in some way. That's no longer a requirement, which opens a lot of new avenues for those of us contented to be amateurs for life.
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