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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 2:58 PM
Express Yourself!
Anita Sharpe on Creativity

By now, most people have heard something about the 'Reading at Risk' survey produced by the National Endowment for the Arts, revealing that the number of U.S. adults reading fiction, poetry and plays has declined sharply over the past 20 years and is continuing to deteriorate.

What received far less attention is the piece of the survey showing that the number of adults writing creatively is increasing fairly dramatically -- up about 30%. (Given that this data comes from the 2002 census, the rise probably can't be attributed to blogging.)

Why are more people writing but fewer reading? My guess is it's the same reason Martha Stewart Living was such a sensation and even why Home Depot hit a home run. People are starved for the kind of creative outlet that is hard to find in a windowless cubicle.

1 comment

Jack Quinn - 7/14/2004 9:08:23 AM
Far less fiction, poetry and plays are being read because publishers are in the groove of re-running commercial winners rather than in any intellectual pursuit of excellence. Same-old same-old authors and genres as long as they make money.

Young people love good literature if we give it to them (and they don't know it's 'literature'). In fact, now, in high school, if I don't bring them a poem or write a thoughtful quote on the board, they ask for it. They say I'm a great poetry reader, but what they're really re-acting to is the content. To them it's new and fresh.

When we're focused on profits in any enterprise, the advancement of human potential is lost. There is actually an intellectual hunger that isn't being fed. The human mind needs challenge.

So many more people write their own stuff today because they get tired of the published drivel and say, 'Geez! I can do better myself.' It's a noble and hopeless endeavour though; publishers won't take any chances with someone new and, of course, agents won't talk to nameless writers. In the literary world, if you're not a prepackaged commercial winner like the names that pass for writers today,or on the correct cocktail circuit, only the slimmest of chances exist for success . Publishing is no longer a searching, nurturing pursuit.


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