Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 12, 2018, 10:37 a.m.
I have started to confront the possibility that the world has passed me by.
I am losing touch.
When I write about high-school sports, it makes perfectly good sense that I don’t understand the kids. Their music. Their clothes. Their tastes. Hell, I remember when the first pizza parlor came to town. I remember when every Braves game magically became accessible via the Superstation. I remember when we all sat in the porch swing at my grandparents’ house, watching all the people go by on the way back from town.
In the unlikely event that someone under forty is reading this, I’m satisfied he or she is chuckling.
I try, of course, to stay in touch with all the changes. It reminds me of what a colleague said when a race-car driver complained that he couldn’t possibly write about what it was like to race a stock car because he’d never done it.
He replied that he’d never died, but that didn’t stop him from writing obituaries. Life is one long obituary.
In conversations, I’m constantly realizing that I’m talking about someone of whom none of the young folks has ever heard. I just rearranged that sentence to prevent it from ending with a preposition.
Nowadays, it’s not a problem.
I have devoted most of my life to writing for people who, more and more, don’t read. I keep on writing because it’s all I know how to do. More and more people write, and less and less people read. This creates a fundamental problem in market economics. It’s not exactly a boost to self-esteem, either.
The place this is most evident is right here in my hometown. Few read my books. Few care to listen to my music. I have no social life other than hanging out in stores and at ballgames. I think I’ve become something of an eccentric. They won’t love me till I’m gone.
The main reason anyone reads these blogs is when, by little more than coincidence, someone important tells them, via retweet rather than word of mouth (because hardly anyone talks anymore), that it’s worth reading. Over the weekend, thousands read a blog about Dale Earnhardt, principally because Dale Earnhardt Jr. retweeted it. During the same period, nineteen people stopped following me on Twitter.
I appreciated Junior’s endorsement, but ultimately, it just called attention to the problem.
Why would anyone pay for writing when so much of it is free?
Nothing. Ever. Works.
That’s my problem. Resistance is futile. Still, I persevere, knowing full well that the dwindling number of people who think I’m good at what I do are still worth serving.
I’m not giving up. I’m just resigned to relative failure.
Depressed? Not clinically. I’m depressed for a damned good reason. Changing times are putting me out of business. It’s not just being a writer. It’s not just living in a small town. The world is changing too fast for many people to keep up. We’re always behind the curve. The money has been made before we get there.
My training is in the description of what already happened. I didn’t major in prophecy.
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