GGarret Vreeland at dangerousmeta linked to an essay published at Inside Higher Ed in their series “Bad Ideas About Writing”. Let’s Banish the Phrase ‘Creative Writing’ was written by Cydney Alexis, an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at Kansas State University. Alexis describes how creative writing began in the 1920’s with the theory that kids would enjoy literature more by participating in its creation by writing it. Somehow the label “writer” has become attached to a particular kind of writing, namely fiction, poetry and scripts for the stage or movies. I agree that we would benefit from a little wider cultural appreciation of writing in all of its forms. Alexis challenges us to broaden the idea of writer to include writing of all kinds.
I’d suggest that the personal weblog is one of todays most important types of writing, Writing for an audience is fundamentally different than scribbling in a journal. You need be careful. You need to think and edit. That is the defining characteristic of a “writer”.
Writing a personal journal published on the internet is a generous and courageous act. Generous because most who write don’t expect anything in return. Courageous because putting work in front of others is a risky act of exposure. It’s a social expression of shared experience. Of course there’s the reward that sharing knowledge may provide prestige and recognition when you’re linked to or when you’re quoted. This social activity has produced an explosion in public writing on the internet. We should recognize that its created many writers like me.
I’ve happily taken on the mantle of “writer”, because my work has pointedly had little to do with my work in drug development in Biotech and Contract Research. I was privileged for a time to be published by the Gardner brothers at original AOL incarnation of “The Motley Fool” and then lucky enough in late 1999 to stumble onto the first available blogging platform, Edit This Page created by Dave Winer. I’ve been free to talk to a small audience and admittedly, to myself, by posting short pieces to the various incarnations of “On Deciding . . . Better”. I’ve probably been more successful as a photographer posting to Flickr , but its here that I return in order to document and reflect on a few ideas that seem worthy of contemplation.