Sometimes I get the feeling that I was born during the wrong time period. I feel like the things I’m good at no longer really have a place in this society, and I’m keenly aware that society only cares about you if you’re able to add something to to the overall sum of what we are. I’m actually not complaining about that, because it makes complete sense to me. If my sole talent was that I could burp “Amazing Grace” then it wouldn’t surprise me to be unemployed. That’s not the problem. The problem is… I’m really weird.
For example: I have no idea how to load a gun, but I’m a decent shot with a crossbow. I feel more comfortable with a sword than a baseball bat, and I would prefer a corset to a bra any day of the week. I’m operatically trained– and I use that talent to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at high school basketball games. Because what else am I going to do with these things? We don’t live in a culture where opera singers are in high-demand, and a sword isn’t worth much against a bullet.
I write in a world where the written word seems to be fading. Worse yet, I don’t even write in sentences or paragraphs, but in PAGES. Tweets don’t do it for me, because how am I supposed to fit everything I want to say into so few characters? In a market where 98K words is considered on the HIGH END of a debut novel, I tried to query my 117K fantasy. Most of my queries didn’t even get a response, and I finally totally get that. Why would anyone want to gamble on something that long when the majority of the nation has the attention span of an ADD goldfish? Most people are really only capable of focusing on tweets or headlines– but get bored as soon as they start reading an actual article. Hell, most of the private comments I get on this blog only refer to the first paragraph of any given post. A few people have told me that my pages are too long and I should shorten my posts into more manageable pieces. And the thing that gets me is I actually consider doing it. I am aware that shorter posts are more likely to be read, so I am almost willing to censor my thoughts just so there’s a chance that someone will look at them. I don’t even write this blog for anyone except for myself, so why is that okay? Why do we live in a world where the best way to give people knowledge is to break it up into tiny bits and feed them piece by piece? How much are we losing by doing things that way? How is that better?
I try to teach my students the importance of the written word. I try to explain to them that spelling and grammar should be more important in text-based communication than it even was when phone conversations were still a thing, but they simply roll their eyes and say “lol. K.” I try teach them the wonders of symbolism and eloquence, but they only mutter “the movie was better” or search Google for sparknotes. Worse yet, their parents are often in agreement, because the world has moved on without me and I didn’t look up in time to notice it.
So… That’s where I am in so many parts of my life. I write for an audience that is fading away as quickly as the American attention span. I sing for people that are no longer young enough to hear. I fight with weapons and ideals that are from bygone eras.
And I’m only 25.
Where do I go from here? Do I change what I am and mold my way into a society that currently has no use for me? Or do I cling to the ways of old while still whispering repeatedly “it’s important” like an aging patient in her last throws of dementia?
Is there still hope for the classical arts in a world that focuses more on the messages behind a screen than the beauty within a heart?
Which is worse: to make myself useful in a world that seems dark and superficial, or to live forever in this cold knowledge that what I am is not what the world wants?