Maybe a little history lesson is in order. I would start here gangsters. Don’t stop here though, get some thoughts going.
How has the image of the writer changed over time? This question is birthed from two of my recent thoughts: that the winners write history and that the image of the writer is a romanticised alcoholic male suffering an external or internal battle.
In my history studies, I learned about many Australian war correspondents and political historians during the beginning of the twentieth century. They were considered heroes. For example, Charles Bean created ‘The Official History of Australia in the war of 1914-1918’. Henry Reynolds and Keith Windshuttle carried a debate over decades about the invasion versus settlement of Australia.
Listening to poet Jean Kent in an interview ‘What makes an engaging poem?’, she explains that when she started writing poetry, she was one of very few women who did. And when I think about authors around the world, I see a romanticised view of alcoholic male writers such as Hemingway (who I love), Hunter S Thompson, Jack Kerouac, F Scott Fitzgerald and so on. There are a couple of women sprinkled amongst the fame but they are not included in the typical image of a writer before the end of the twentieth century. For example, when you google ‘famous writers’ a selection of writers appears; the top ten are all male except for one woman who is J K Rowling, the rest of the men except for Stephen King were born before 1922.
Now, with the advancement in technology and the effects of globalisation, anyone can be a writer. Any person can tell their story. Through blogs, self publishing, competitions, websites, ease of travel many people access anyone’s writing.
So for me, the image of the writer has changed from the portrayal of Christian by Ewan McGregor in the movie Moulin Rouge to a mass of people sharing their story, in their own voice; a mass of people sitting in café’s with their laptop, or sitting on their lounge at home fending away the cat while they scribble notes down in a journal. Yes, the idea of the writer has lost some sense of romanticism; and yes, it means that writing education has now become a commercial idea to many; and yes, it means that more women are writing and so too are the ‘losers’; but, this leaves me not with an answer but with yet another question, something that really will get you pondering; who writes history now?
Let me know what you think. There’s plenty more to say where that comes from.