The size of your gift

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I recently read Kurt Vonnegut’s 1987 novel Bluebeard for the first time. The book is powerful, and it touched on a variety of topics. One of those topics came very close to my heart. If you’re an artist, if creativity bubbles inside you, do you have the rights to express yourself publicly, to call yourself an artist, even if you’re not as good as the giants like Shakespeare or Leonardo da Vinci?

Kurt Vonnegut obviously contemplated the same loaded question when he wrote the following words:

…moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world champions.

The entire planet can get along nicely now with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap-dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an “exhibitionist.”

How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, “Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”   

Perhaps, in 1987, this sad statement was true for any writer, except a small lucky selection picked out by major publishers. Hopefully, it’s not true anymore, because according to Vonnegut, most of self-published writers nowadays, people like myself and many others in the IWSG community, would be considered “exhibitionists” in 1987.

Thank the universe for the internet. Now, we don’t have to bottle-up our “moderate giftedness” anymore. We can “tap-dance” our books online and find our own readers, and the gate-keepers of the past be damned. And if anybody jeers, we don’t have to read their tweets either. We become an online community, and the need to compare with geniuses like Vonnegut dissolves. I hope…

I’d say: Hip-hip-hooray! What do you say?

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This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The size of your gift

  1. No, those are the idiots that post stupid videos on YouTube…

  2. Juneta says:

    I am not sure what I think about that statement.. Exhibitionist seem harsh from those “blessed” to have achieved championship to use words like that toward other writers. For some reason those words did not sit well with me and overshadowed their gift lessening it for me.

    I definitely agree we are lucky to have the internet and opportunities of today. I love the way you worded that last paragraph.

  3. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    I am now reading The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner, which is all about her advice to writers. I’d never heard of her until I joined the book club here by the IWSG. I mentioned this because one of the chapters in her book deal with writers that publicly promoted themselves.
    She also says writers are scared by their ambitious hearts. Personally, I think one of the best things that could have happened to the publishing world was and still is self-publishing. As for Kurt Vonnegut, I don’t read his books and therefore can’t affirm that he’s a genius. Maybe he is, but not in my books.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  4. I am endlessly grateful for the access the internet gives me to so many gifted people, in a wide range of genres.
    Degree of giftedness? Definitely a totally subjective assessment.

  5. We are free to flout our stuff now.

  6. Mary Aalgaard says:

    You picked an excellent quote to reflect on. It’s true in many ways. I also think of recorded music. I was replaced by Youtube for a few worship services, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I play the piano. I do think that the internet has leveled the playing field a bit, but it is impossible to be compared to the greats in any art form.
    Mary at Happy IWSG Day!
    Mary at Play off the Page

  7. The great thing about the internet is that is does give us the ability and freedom to get our work out there – an opportunity most of us wouldn’t have had back then. It also gives us access to more books and material to learn from, which is never a bad thing! On the other hand, it can be incredibly difficult for us to stand out in this large, growing sea of self-published writers online. One still needs to be amazing, even if it’s just a matter of brilliant marketing, in order to ‘make it big’.
    All the more reason for us to really support one another and help lift each other up in this community.

  8. Denise Covey says:

    I love how such words of wisdom relate to us today. I haven’t read this book of Vonnegut, but I will now. Thanks for telling us about it. Here’s to all the ‘exhibitionists’ like us!

  9. Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    Great post! Cheers *clinking glasses*.

  10. This is a great time to be an author. You can publish and market without an agent and traditional publisher if that’s your desire. There are so many options now. And research is so much quicker for those little pesky details.

  11. I’m glad I dipped a toe into the self-publishing sea, and I’m up for possibly diving all the way, in at some point. 🙂

  12. I am glad that the internet has opened things up so that everyone can more freely express themselves.

  13. Natalie Aguirre says:

    I am glad for the connections we can make as writers through the Internet and the choices we have as writers now. It’s much better than being limited to just the traditionally published path.

  14. Diane Burton says:

    Love the internet and the ease with which we connect with others, esp. other writers. We don’t have the luxury of letting others promote our books. We have to do the work.

  15. yvettecarol says:

    Hear, hear! Yes, same as you, I am so happy and grateful we have the internet and self publishing. We of moderate gifts have an outlet at last, and it’s so liberating. 🙂

  16. rolandclarke says:

    I am nodding as I’m a Vonnegut fan – but only moderate as I haven’t read all he wrote. My ‘dancing on the table’ moment has passed. Self-publishing allows us to tread water in a sea of writers. But it can cost and I’m no longer earning enough.

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