Jan 172010

Writers, don’t freak out just because that’s what all the traditional publishers are doing, what with how they consider the onslaught of new media kind of like a plague. They are the big huge tree, and bloggers and other independents are each a locust, which, singularly, are not normally threatening. But ba-dillions of them at once, each taking a tiny piece of the trunk for themselves, causes the tree to buckle and die.

Some trees die, but not all of them. Whenever a new media is introduced, it weeds out the weaker of the old media, but it doesn’t destroy it altogether. Radio didn’t destroy newspapers. Television did destroy radio. And the internet won’t destroy all of the above. Just because some big trees are dying, and making a lot of noise about it, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing for you as a writer. In fact, this is a good thing for many writers, especially those who are still trying to make their mark. Because now, without the big trees taking up all the room, you are able to plant your own sapling with a much better chance of seeing it grow. Because the fact is this: The ground is level now, and it’s fertile. You do not need to climb the tree of some other platform. You cam make your own platform. It’s easier now than ever, and mark my words: This is a finite moment in history.

It’s like when Saturday Night Live first hit the airwaves in the early seventies. It was a brilliant but simple show, comprised of close friends who were just doing what they loved. The show drew an audience because SNL’s energy was contagious, and the late-night market was practically a free frontier. They were able to stake their territory while network bureaucrats were busy looking elsewhere. Now, as an unavoidable result of it’s popularity, SNL is a complicated franchise and a creative move is never made without an endless series of red tape and network ministrations.

Today, the internet is a free frontier for only so long. Pretty soon it will be bureaucratized like what happens to all wonderfully creative things when ineffectual mid-level management suckups recognize a way to wreck them. In the future we’ll be telling our kids, “I remember a day when all you had to do to start a blog was, like, click ‘start.'” What I’m saying is, right now is the time to stake your territory on the internet. Now is the time to make your own platform. Now is NOT the time to freak out or listen to the deafening (and often false) wailings of the dying meglomedia. Their plight does not equal your plight. Stop looking for a big tree to climb and start planting your own.

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