The New Rock And Roll

After the World Wars two things happened in Britain that fundamentally changed the character of its society. The first was the loss of automatic respect for the upper classes. On the battlefield lions were led by donkeys, and many a working stiff resented the loss of life caused by idiot officers there because of a title or land. The second was the affluence of the young. Teenagers and twenty-somethings threw off the constraints of rationing and spent their money on what pleased them: films, clothes and rock and roll.

Singers and bands hardly older than their fans sprung up, and what hot-blooded youth didn’t envy the mobs of screaming girls that accompanied them in all the news items? So those with any musical talent rushed out and bought a guitar and Bert Weedon’s book, and those with no talent or voice bought a drum kit. All over the country youth clubs echoed with, “Say, let’s do the show right here!” Forming a band was easy, it was cheap, and above all, it was cool.

In my youth I could empty a room in seconds with my harmonica and I sing, not so much in key as in a bunch of keys. I have less than zero musical talent, and I’m far too old now to start a rock and roll career.

Fast forward to now. There’s been another technical revolution far more pervasive than electric guitars and amps. It’s difficult for the current generation to imagine what life was like with no IT and above all no Interweb. The tools have advanced exponentially, as has the infrastructure and the business. Now anyone can share his or her insights with the world (sometimes far too easily). Eight-year-olds have blogs, the twittersphere has millions of thoughts a minute and social media is now a term everyone understands (even if they don’t understand the media itself).

Writing, whether blog posts, reviews, jokes or the next great novel, is the new rock and roll. We can do it on our phones, on the train, locked up in a dark garret or sat in the café of our choice. Any number of applications can format it just the way we want. Websites litter the Internet with forums, peer reviews and advice for the wannabe writer. We don’t even need a publisher anymore, just upload it to Kindle, Createspace, Lulu, Nook and hey presto, you’re the next J.K. Rowling.

I am amazed at how many friends and colleagues are writing or have written a novel, and how many of them consume books like candy. Far from the predicted death of reading, new technology has made access to literature far easier and far cheaper. There’s a book inside everyone, it’s true, and now we can release that book on a hungry public.

Of course, the public may not be hungry for our particular book. How many school bands were excruciating to listen to? How many made it as far as a pub gig, never mind the mainstream? With the massive explosion of choice, the author has less chance of being noticed and has to shout louder to compete. I once asked Neil Gaimen (I know, name dropper) about whether he got asked to review books by new authors. He said he used to, when he had the time, and always tried to say at least one thing nice about them, even if it was, the spelling was good. Grab a 99p special on a Kindle from someone who has only two reviews, both from family members. They don’t even have to be spelled correctly to be available now. The ease of publishing means the good author has to work even harder now, especially if he is also the editor and proof-reader. And the number of self-published authors that make it to the big time is miniscule.

That doesn’t stop me dreaming, though. I stand here in front of my bedroom mirror, laptop in hand and strike a pose. Never mind that I’m not in Wembley or Madison Gardens. Writing is the new rock and roll.

Hello World! (rapturous applause)

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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