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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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Methodically Creative – words combined that don’t make sense?


It was my English teacher who said the word in a school report. Methodical. Truthfully I didn’t know what it meant. It sounded similar to the word on those cough sweets. Now that I know its meaning it is certainly an appropriate word for a man who likes to make lists, who sees a structure in apparent chaos, a guy who abhors sheer randomness. You probably know those devices for writing prompts. Spinning wheels or random numbers indicating your protagonist, the dilemma, the setting and the type of story. That is never me, never.

Unfortunately my creative side was never pushed and although apparent in my scientific nature, I struggled along on my own in the arts disciplines that I loved. Life was about getting a degree to get a job and then build a life. There was little room for my music, my poetry and my drama to be anything but pastimes. I look at my own kids now and hope I can stop myself from making that mistake.

Science is all about methodology and without doubt it is one of the reasons I am well suited to it. My mind is diagnostic in nature seeking what’s not as it should be, spotting the flaw in the machinery. However, repetition bores me and I struggle with mundane going through the motions during experimental practice. I think a lot of us do. Wrestling with the answers is where it’s at for me.

And so it is with my writing. I diagnose life around me. I dismantle and rebuild it, looking to see how it works, finding the flaw before this churning mix in my mind produces an image or story. My wife asks can I not write normal books? Well no because in the normal the flaw is not seen. So often we have to take the flaw out of its surroundings to see it for real with no compensations. But there is always a method in the way that I do this. I have my mode of working.

Sometimes I get into difficulty with editors because my way of understanding the world, my method, means I often leap across different POVs in the same chapter in order to compare different agendas and motives. A life time reading Pratchett probably taught me how to do this (although I am still the novice to the great master in this) but more importantly gave the encouragement to write in my own style and not cling to the methods of different instructors.

So I hope you can see I am methodically creative.Science and art mixing, left and right brain co-operating. I believe these opposites are present in all of us if we let them loose, in different forms and ways to be sure, but conflict to hone the content we produce. What two words combined that don’t make sense describe you? Let me know!


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