Friday, November 12, 2010

An Epitaph

I imported my blog posts to Open Salon.com in an effort to sell my novel. Open Salon is a platform that offers a built in readership. My posts received a tremendous response from readers.

I chose to use Open Salon as a marketing site to market my talent and my words. I did not praise writers when their words weren't merited. I did not swap slather or seek the salacious. I did not seek friendship from nondescript ficiton-writing facades floating through the flotsam of cyberspace; I have friends. I did not allow people who lacked social boundaries to bind me to a quasi-code of cliquish behavior. I refused to read bastard prose without a known parent. My rule: real name, real face, amen. My method took a lot of heat from the members because I rejected the notion that Open Salon was a social site and because my repudiation of the repugnant didn't cost me readers.

Open Salon is not a social site; Facebook is a social site.

And yes, I know Open Salon began as a blogging platform combined as a social network. Yet the notion was that one could network for work. Open Salon was meant to be a hybrid of LinkedIn and Blogger. Open Salon and Salon are under the parentage of Salon Media Group. Open Salon is akin to a toddler scribbling at the side of his collegiate cousin. They both write; one uses crayons. Sometimes the toddler's tracing are tacked alongside a journalist and posted on the parent site. It's rare; it happens. It's the goal.

Open Salon should have been about the work. It should have been a showcase of superior work. Making cash as a freelance writer is ballnumbingly difficult right now. The death of newspapers & magazines has glutted the market with networked writers with emptied wallets. If anyone wants to make a dime as a writer, he must be at the top of his craft. I knew that it benefited all participants to uphold the standards of the craft so that all the work was showcased to the widest possible audience instead of the smallest coziest claque.

Now I believe writers must mentor each other. I believe that writers should assist each other to hone their craft, but not publicly on a blog. I think grammatical errors should be pointed out. But the chalkboard should be concealed. Criticism should be submitted in a private message so that pristine prose would be showcased. I think it would behoove compeers to remember that a writer's block is actually the auction block a writer auctions his pride with each piece of prose. Writers must not cost their comrades pride with public rebukes. Yet praising the less than prize worthy is a disservice to the craft and to the writer. It gives the less talented fallacious hope and fuels him to submit substandard work. He gluts the engulfed market with even more dross. Open Salon became a clique and a claque.

I knew that avatars and pseudonyms lowered the stature of Open Salon. Their use made the site more of a social network than a showcase of talented writers. I knew their use coddled insecurity and courted cowardliness. A true writer owns his words and he owns his thoughts. He claims ownership. Pride makes a man claim parentage of his prose. I thought that a writer would try to raise the stature of Open Salon to weight his words with worth and respect. It was a no-brainer to me. Posts about Open Salon and its members just cemented the fallacy that Open Salon was a social site.

Now I understand that some people lack the social skills to interact with others. They're alone because they don't know how to remove their fingers from a keyboard and offer an open palm to the people who breathe beside them. Or they perceive and don't participate; they write about others' lives. Or they are writers without a support system. Open Salon offered that social sphere or that support system. But here's an unspoken flaw: writing is a competitive endeavor. There are only so many books to be published and so few magazine pages devoted to non-commercial work. Socializing in a competitive social sphere is biased with the boundary that one cannot be more celebrated or successful than his comrade. Jealousy creeps in. On Open Salon one can feign friendship yet one can't fake talent. Talent (or its lack) is as obvious as red fingernail polish on a bridal gown.

Last month I culled my posts to 15 pieces that best represented my work. I didn't abandon my words; I left them as a billboard to my blog.

Other writers left Open Salon because of the bullshit or because they were required to swallow too much pride.

I left because of the bullshit.

This morning I traveled through the graveyard looking for talent or testament. They're sorely missing from all but a handful of writers. I clicked through the tombs and I noted that most of the talented writers no longer participate on the site. I meandered through the parasitical posts of parents feeding off their children's privacy or children parading their parent's pride. And I noticed the sharp decline of readers. The number of hits has drastically dropped. I added the RSS feeds of a few writers, I recommended NetworkedBlogs to a few more, I founded an online writing group, I deleted all but one piece, and I signed off the site.

Open Salon will soon turn off the light. They're struggling for cash. It doesn't take an enlightened man to see that the site is dank with darkness. It will toddle on for awhile. Spammers will still hit. A few persistent pests will still post. Cockroaches like to scamper in the shards of the shadows. They won't even notice the best and the brightest have packed up their prose until there is nothing left for the posers to maggot.

Too bad.

Open Salon could have been a terrific site for networking writers who struggle in the worst economy in US history.