Outcome of challenge to O’Neill’s leadership too close to call
KTA echo chamber – deaf ears, silos, checklists written in steam

Writers’ motives remain; but disruption is wreaking havoc

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Gone is the romantic idea that being a writer is somehow glamorous"


TUMBY BAY - Writers write for all sorts of reasons, some obvious and some obscure. And what they write about is often dictated by the avenues open to them to engage with their readers.

One of these two things, motivation and avenues of opportunity, has undergone considerable change over the last 30 years or so.

I don’t think it’s motivation. What inspired writers before is probably what drives them along today.

If you ask the unwashed reading public why writers write, the answer they might offer is to make money.

The more discerning reader might also add that disseminating ideas and opinions and influencing people are also legitimate motives for many writers.

If you ask writers why they write, they would also add they write simply because it’s something they like doing.

But while the reasons for writing may not have changed much in those 30 years, the avenues writers use have changed a lot.

The old process of finding a publisher for a written work has been effectively superseded by technological advances in formatting, printing and distribution.

Today we have eBooks, print-on-demand and internet retailing.

These advances have resulted in a veritable deluge of new authors and books and a general loss of quality control.

Traditional publishers under siege and fighting a rear guard action against these disruptive changes, now tend to stick with their proven stable of writers and rarely take on new talent.

The old marketing system of sending writers on grand tours, book signings and media interviews is also dwindling.

Having done a couple of those and realising that they were mainly for the benefit of the publisher and not the writer, I’m glad they’re now reserved for just the big sellers and the more ego-driven.

Also gone, I think, is the romantic idea that being a writer is somehow glamorous. Nowadays, for a lot of writers, it’s hard work for little or no pay.

Another traditional avenue for writers has been severely handicapped by social media, which has influenced what they write about and taken away many potential readers.

Nowadays anyone with half a brain can get on social media and promulgate the dopiest and nastiest ideas. This has put a big dent in the avenues available for serious writers.

It’s a sad fact that because of social media, fewer people are reading books. Why read a novel when you can download the aberrant movie version from Netflix?

Long form non-fiction, either in essay or book form, is also no longer in demand. Brief, short-lived quick reads are the order of the day. In their most extreme and insane form they have been cut down to 140 characters or less.

Added to that is the fact that writing these days can be a dangerous occupation. Publishing on social media in particular can uncover and earn you an unwelcome following of the seriously deranged and vengeful.

Which begs the question of why so many writers still write. Why would you labour over 70-90,000 plus words only to be upstaged by some drongo on Twitter spitting out 140 characters of misspellings and ruptured grammar?

There are lots of answers to that question but I think much of it has to do with a kind of compulsion and a love of the written word peculiar to writers.

Believe it or not, many writers these days write with no intention of seeking publication, either in the traditional way or in the new formats. In this they are following in the footsteps of some of their famous forbears.

There is a kind of enviable purity in this choice. Eschewing the commercial and ego driven aspects of writing can be a great liberation for a writer.

Unfortunately, it also creates a substantial loss for a declining band of traditional readers.


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Mathias Kin

I am inspired by many writers like Rashmii, Arnold Mundua, Phil, Keith, Ed Brumby and all you other great writers, PNGians as well as expat.

Every time somebody publishes a new book, I challenge myself, 'I can do that too'. So even though I am not getting younger, my writing had just begun.

Ed Brumby

On reading Rashmii’s and Baka’s comments I felt, immediately, a mix of mild distress - and curiosity.

The thought that these friends of mine are, or might be contemplating forsaking Attitude and/or writing came as something of a shock.

In Rashmii’s case, I take solace in the fact that she will continue to contribute Kokoda Trail-related articles. Her advocacy on behalf of the carriers has been exemplary and a shining example of her sense of justice and fair-dealing.

Through her (carefully-crafted) writing, Rashmii has always, in my experience at least, set out to provoke. I had not realized the extent to which she relied on the responses to her provocations - the critique, if you like, as sources of motivation and inspiration to push her ‘to think on the edges of issues’ and so assist in the further development of her writing.

Which explains, to some extent at least, why she has turned to Twitter – the ideal medium for any provocateur. (Just ask Donald Trump.)

I say ‘to some extent at least’ because I’m not convinced (perhaps because I am not a Twit(erer)) that such micro writing can have any significant effect on one’s longer-form writing.

And perhaps that’s Rashmii’s point: having to condense one’s ideas and opinions into a set number of characters forces one to distil and crystalise those ideas etc into the ‘purest’ and most effective form – just ask any Haiku poet.

Uncharacteristically, Rashmii does not disclose the nature of the dream that she now intends to pursue: one can only hope that she succeeds – and shares the result(s) and outcomes with her Attitude fans.

Unlike Rashmii – who is simply taking her literary endeavours along another pathway, Apo Baka seems afflicted by writer’s angst, yet manages to express it with typical eloquence.

Also unlike Rashmii, he seems to regard those who use social media not as sources of inspiration but as mere (disinterested) purveyors of diatribe.

I would remind my Apo that there remain many Attitude readers who DO give a f..k what the Daniels, the Michaels, the Rashmiis and the Marlenes think and write about – and who also draw inspiration and pleasure from his own writing.

I would also remind him of his response to my question some years ago as to why he writes …. which was something along the lines of, ‘ I just have to …’

And I wouldn’t be at all inclined to join him in a drink to his retirement from writing because I, among many, would be devastated if he did.

Rashmii Bell

This week, I will attend the last of the many KJ-sponsored literary events that have piqued my writing focus since becoming a part of the Attitude community.

It is one of the many events after which I will again share my learning with the Attitude community. But it will also be the last occasion (bar Kokoda Trail-related articles) before I take a long-term hiatus from Attitude to chase a dream.

To publish or not publish is not a question I have dwelt on - although one stage I had started a manuscript of 10 essays (thank you Ed Brumby!).

The platform of PNG Attitude has been thoroughly effective as an avenue for my advocacy writing and I am content with the online reach it has had. Content and also truly appreciative.

The one thing that has often stagnated my output of writing has been a the source of inspiration - particularly inspiration from other PNG writers. Not seeing enough, and not writing to a depth or breadth of critique that pushes me to think on the edges of issues, has often affected my motivation.

This is where I have found social media to be useful. Twitter, if you curate content specific to your interest, I have found to be instructive in helping me to develop my writing.

Baka Bina

The walking stick is at the ready for plodding along in the dirt and mud of sinecure of doing nothings and wasting nothings.

Retiring the pen and brain seems to be good bliss.

Ah, I can feel it, sitting in amongst the kunai grass, looking into the mountains yonder and wondering if my thoughts are worth the read.

The warped social media readers don't give a fuck about what I care to diatribe about and they don't give a fuck about you others, the Daniels and the Michaels and the Rashmiis and the Marlenes and the Deans who dribble in verbiage that is foreign to their minds.

So join me in a drink in retirement from writing (just about).

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil - The most notable feature on social media platforms is the proliferation of the exclamation mark. It is like eating in the street.

Splenetic diatribes on social media platforms are redolent of bar parlour bores and the exclamation marks are merely the shouting.

Cool, awesome, excellent!!!!!! (It was an abbreviation for College of Advanced Education).

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