Woodwork & Wallpapers

Even though the supposed mastery, or third-eye, of the business of peddling in fiction still evades me, both as a science and an art, I can certainly distinguish that there are a million writers now emerging from the woodwork and wallpapers. Perhaps, make that a billion writers out there. And this may be for many fine motives, most expedient of which is the mainstreaming and commercialization of literature as a magic-bullet reply to the demise of the reading culture that we now have to stomach as a matter of present reality.

Since people have refused to read, we must now take the proverbial mountain to Mohammed – as we are fast running out of useful alternatives. And so the dwindling demand for readership is met with the wanton supply of partial authors who have adapted in novel ways to capture the attention and essence of an intellectually simpler, highly temperamental audience.

The deliberate mainstreaming of literature can construed as a remarkably blessed venture: take Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie’s essentially mainstreamed Africanist texts (all but her ‘Purple Hibiscus’, a classic travesty of nascent writery) that have essentially fueled what has become the rise of younger, audacious African writers such as myself. On the other hand we can cite a laundry list of so-called mainstream writers and books that are cringe-worthy: take the entire series of E.L James’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, among other such malevolent works of brazen malfiction.

Short-form writing has become the tonic for shorter attention spans.

Similarly, it can be argued that the propagation of celebrity writers has added to today’s watered-down the art of writing and the crops of writers, so that the need to – by fractional writing alone – attain silver-screen status can be faulted well. There is of course, nothing terribly transgressive with celebrated writers, as some rightfully should be, being gods or dogs of literature in their own right, yet one worries about the legacy we leave behind for the next wave of writers bursting through the cracks. Writers who have been known to customarily take what was and transgress convention, and by so doing fashion great incidents of art. These ingenious ones will dismantle the writing styles of great artistes and writing and narrative theories and develop styles of their own that often become an acquired taste, and in other precious cases, works of writing innovation.

Because of said trends in writing, the practice of what used to be decent writing becomes gravely adulterated by the tremors of a faster, less engaged civilization – and this has become an entirely marvelous state of affairs

However, some have argued that this mutation of/in literature is welcome, we must adapt to the times, evolve, they say, it should be cheered on if we must, it may perhaps breed revolutions in writing such as we have come to find with sinful blogs on being a ‘great writer’, Twitter flash fictions in 140 characters, or Instagram off-cuts drafted as typewriter summaries (with actual typos for genuineness), and other such commodified mechanisms of writing-for-display that I have surely donated to at some point in time myself. This state of affairs, according to one Peter Lunenfield “creates an environment of continuous partial production”. But it is not an entirely rotten way to be, perhaps better this style of short-form writing than the painful breeding of even more inferior forms.

Still, a fearsome majority of these audacious and ravenous writers, while following the light in the corridors of this proclaimed literary revolution, are for all intents inclined to be self-regarding and occupied with personal identity as a matter of private compulsion and as a way to tell us of who they really are, show us their true colors, what makes them pulsate, what marvelous horrors of life that have texturized them so far in quiet, unique ways.

You read the fullness of their exertions in typewriter snippets, a glance through the carefully penned summation of what they are about, and it becomes self-evident: they somehow manage to become the total subjects of their own work, the central agency, the delicate problem and then the powerful solution unto themselves. And you worry about this one-sided talent – and it is a talent – the ability to insert yourself in your own way even in partial productions.

This and many other such nuances would compose the very nature of literature as we know it in years to come. And while some other literary formalists hold down the vitriolic offense at the back of their gullets at this so-called progression, a few other will break set literary circumferences and hazard into already experimented monarchies of writing, but armed with powerful questions of their own, so that at the culmination of this performance, they would, no less, write newer wonders but with a devilish ability to do this entirely as literary rebels. And there would be many undevised consequences for this, some of them admissible as works of art and many more that would incite exceptional repugnancy.