This morning I was reading about my football team’s win, big news mostly because of the quarterback that Coach Jim Harbaugh chose to start (and finish) the game. In the two articles I perused, at the bottom was that invitation to share your thoughts. I smiled, feeling it was indicative of this century. People have always wanted to give their two cents. Now it’s as easy as breathing.
Occasionally I read the comments after an article, but often they are filled with vitriol, and I stop reading comments for a week or two. Years ago folks took a reporter’s word not only as gospel, but not even considering offering their opinion. Letters to the editor was one way to communicate, but most often articles were digested at face value. Not anymore.
Writing fiction is not like reporting news, or blogging. As an author, I craft my novels in solitude. As an indie novelist, I rely on trusted crit partners, but ultimately I release books by which I stand or fall alone. But for some reason, this morning’s sports stories struck a nerve, being invited to share my thoughts. I have plenty of feelings on the 49ers quarterback hoo-haa; Colin Kaepernick better sparks the offense, so leave him in. But I am one person, and it’s not going to have one iota of influence on Coach Harbaugh, it’s simply my feeling. I own that notion, like I do my novels, it’s all mine. I wonder if by being so tempted to share our personal opinions, do they become diluted? Are they fodder blowing in the wind alongside millions of other voices, swirling in a cacophony of agitated sound.
Or maybe after a long break (and my husband’s Green Bay Packers getting killed by the NY Giants), I’m just feeling crotchety.
During baseball season, my rather hearing-impaired uncle used to sit right beside his ancient red plastic AM radio, games blaring through the small trailer next to my house. As a kid, I would sit in the kitchen with my elderly aunt, watching her play Solitaire, the announcer’s voice easily noted between thin walls. My uncle wasn’t a quiet man, always something to say, often loudly, as if we might not hear him. But I can’t imagine what he would think of being asked to respond to every single article he read. Having grown up with that generation just steps away, sometimes a part of me is still there, comfortable in past eras where the drone of instant communication didn’t infiltrate or overwhelm. This morning I just wanted to read a few articles, then move on with my day. I didn’t wish to be sucked into a maelstrom of opinion (or write a post about it), but that is the way of things in 2012.
When I’m feeling nostalgic, it’s for those quieter moments when I didn’t need to sift through heaps of voices. Maybe that’s why noveling means so much. It’s me and my characters, an isolated hush within vast worlds and tiny moments. As this final week of NaNoWriMo winds along, Chris Baty’s words mean even more; no one else can tell my story. Those tales aren’t reliant upon tens of hundreds of thousands of opinions. They are the sole reflections of this writer. Keeping a firm grasp of my individuality is imperative to maintaining equilibrium in the never-ending drone of public opinion.