Letter From the Editor: Creative Writing in an Attention Economy

by Laura Michelle Thomas, jaBlog! Senior Editor

 

It’s not by choice that I will be bringing some kind of end to the LTC website this summer. I am quite happy to run creative writing contests (I have been doing so for nine years without pay, so I must love it.) and with running my more recent literary project: jaBlog! But when participation in contests and submissions to our literary publication slowly plummet off the edge of a cliff, I know it’s time to close up shop.

I’ve got the message: you’ve got other things to attend to.

I have received many letters in the past 24 hours. Nearly all of them consoling me, encouraging me not to give up. I assure you, I have not given up. It’s the junior authors who are giving up: giving up their attention.

Almost every letter contains an excuse about why she or he has not been able to participate more frequently in LTC writing opportunities, opportunities that would help them achieve their creative writing goals but that they don’t have “time” for and, I would more appropriately say, “attention” for. Funny, as a mom, I know this so-called time crunch is not about having too much schoolwork. It never is these days.

This is about how a person spends his or her attention in a world that spits out a record-breaking stream of endless, non-stop, useless distractions. Too much input.

And here is the truth about creative writing: it’s about output, not input. It requires self-propelled attention from the writer. Lots of it. Hours, weeks, months of attention. And that’s difficult to do in the face of all that screen-time, online, texting-chime input.

The moral of the story is, in 2016 and beyond, that creative writers would be wise to hoard their attention. A wise creative writer does not not let her mind become a dumping ground for random, sensational input. A wise creative writer realizes that his attention may be the most valuable commodity he owns in today’s economy.

Creative writing demands output:

output from your brain,

from your inner screen–

the private, limitless screen that you and no one else owns–

your imagination.

Creative writing is an act of creation that cannot happen absent attention. If a junior author is almost always attending to things other than writing such as texting, emailing, surfing, gaming, watching, then what time is there to attend to creative writing? And so, the opportunities presented here at LTC are becoming obsolete. I have the submission and participation statistics to prove it.

Having said all this, and if you have read this far down the page, then I challenge you, Junior Author, to show me that you have self-control over your attention and that you are using it to put out your creative writing. Show me. Submit to jaBlog! We are still going to publish until the end of June. I and my editors want to read your stuff. We want to see what is in your imagination.

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Laura Michelle Thomas

About Laura Michelle Thomas

Laura Michelle Thomas is a novelist, freelance writer, writing mentor, and the owner of Laura Thomas Communications. She is the creator and administrator of the Junior Authors Contests and Junior Authors Conferences. Laura is publisher and senior editor of jaBlog! and is dedicated to fostering the development of young writers worldwide.

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