Konrad Glogowski, in his response to Bud’s prompts wrote this:
Thomas Mann once wrote that a “Writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” When I was in high school, my English teacher offered the following interpretation of Mann’s words: ‘Writing,” he said, “is a craft that requires you to spend hours writing and re-writing, focusing on ideas, sentences, words. It is for many of us a long and lonely process, but at the end of this process, you have a document that others will appreciate and enjoy. You also have the feeling that you have achieved a challenging task – that you have succeeded in communicating ideas that matter to you.”
I still agree with my English teacher, but I also know that the networked world we live in has changed writing. It has helped us understand that the writing Thomas Mann was talking about, and the kind of writing my teacher had in mind, is Writing, with capital W. It is the formal, transactional type of writing that we associate with academic texts. The internet has allowed us to participate by engaging in writing (notice the lowercase “w”) that is expressive, that facilitates connections and relationships, that lives in nodes and correspondences created through hyperlinks. It has been called “connective writing“, but I don’t think it means that Mann or my teacher were wrong. I still think about how hard it is to be a writer, but what it means to me today is how hard it is to write and think about the connections and embed all those connections and nodes in our writing. Yes, everyone is a writer, especially today, but what we think about when we write today is more intertextual than ever before.
And there it is. Crystalline and succinct. We do two types of writing, and one much more so than the other. Why is it then that we place such a premium on high-stakes writing? Writing with a lowercase “w,” as Konrad says, allows for avenues and expressions that the uppercase “W” writing does not. The fact that there can be a dichotomy where both thrive is one of the beautiful elements of writing today.