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Has Electronic Life wiped out Books?


I recently read an article about Jacqueline Wilson (link) and amongst the views attributed to her was that she believed that “Electronic life has wiped out books.” This seems like a strong statement but what is the truth behind it? According to the Washington Post (link) there has been over a 16% decline in adults who read at least one literary work per year from 1982 to 2015 from just under 57% to 43.1%. I find that quite shocking as the percentage in 1982 already seems low. 
Apparently there are more things to amuse us nowadays. With our smartphones we can surf the web or read our emails, play games or watch more television programs. I am a fan of television series and do watch a number of films and programs a week but one important thing I find with the cinematic art form is that while it may exercise your brain with issues brought to the fore, it doesn’t drive your imagination.

Surely imagination is the well spring for creativity. Without imagination our whole society would struggle to function. How would we develop, how would we grow without that capacity to think what would be and then working out how to get there? And surely books are the playground for that creativity.


I’m not saying that books are the only playground for any of the creative arts will do that. Sculpture, basket weaving, drama, embroidery, painting, etc.. are all pastimes that will drive the imagination. But when we simply hover over what I would call static detail, that which is fixed and cannot be changed, then our imagination will die.

I don’t think Jacqueline Wilson is totally right, well, not yet. But she certainly has hit the nail on the head with how things are heading.

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The Hurt of Care Home Criticism

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“Well, I guess it’s the sort of thing you would have in a rest home, sitting on the table for when people are bored.”

It’s not the way I imagined someone talking about my first book of poetry. I had worked for years, endured deep thought and debate about single words in some of these poems and then fought hard to produce it all in a good looking book. And while I hope those unfortunate people who are bored in their rest home would find enjoyment and comfort in my book, it is not the location I had dreamed about for it. And I certainly didn’t expect to hear comments like this. As an intended compliment too! Seriously, the person thought they were complimenting me.
When you place your beloved “baby” into the public domain, it is perhaps done with immense trepidation. Even the most honest of comments, intended positively, can be soul destroying. I have found learning to smile in the face of what is sometimes coming across as abuse, difficult to master. And yet we heard this week how one disgruntled comment led to a bottle over the head.

It seems to me that sometimes the hardest things to learn in writing is not about the letters, words or spaces we form on the page. Neither are they about the formatting, publishing process, pricing and merchandising we are all a part of these days. Instead, it is simply being able to let your “baby” go.

When our children go into the world, people pass comment on them, sometimes praising them, at times not so. To let our kids loose on this world hurts, in comments and sometimes in how they change when the world gets a hold of them. Our writing goes through a similar process and we as parents must take the flak that comes. Our children grow by exposure to the world and so does our writing. And as parents we need to roll with the punches.
I think the hardest thing may be for screen writers, play writers or books that make it to film or television. Someone else then takes your child and changes them. Clips off the golden locks, dresses them in those gaudy colours or totally restricts their behaviour. Maybe the remuneration helps. I’ll let you know when I am there!

The simple fact is we can no more guard our writing from everything than we can our children. It is all about growing up. Yes we can vet who our writing is exposed to in some cases, change bad influences but ultimately we have to let some things just fly over us. Either that or ring every single care home and make sure there’s a copy on each table!

I’m currently publishing my first novel and the Kickstarter for Crescendo is running¬†here until 21/11/15. Please support if you can.

G R Jordan author, poet, and top Dad apparently!