American Short Fiction asks some of our favorite literary voices about online publication—its importance and usefulness and whether “instantaneousness” can or does trump “sancrosanctity.”
Today, the conversation continues.
Matt Stewart, what does online publishing mean to you?
Matt Stewart answers:
It’s a simple equation for me.
Online publishing = interrupted reading
I get my information from dozens of terrific online publishing outlets. I read tweets, I read Facebook posts, I go to trusted news sources, I even read a good percentage of my emails. It’s fast and high-value; I get the headlines and one-liners quickly. But reading any one piece for longer than 30 seconds online is pretty close to impossible, because then a notification bleeps, something vibrates, Michael Jackson dies, Obama farts, etc.
Many of those online updates are interesting, relevant and well-written, but there’s far too much of it for any mere mortal to process. And then the next shiny new object comes along….
For me, reading deeply, reading literature, is done best through offline publishing. Without interruptions. With a book, or magazine, or Nook, or whatever. My golden time is usually on a train, underground, where my phone doesn’t work. Focused, sustained concentration, while rare and getting rarer, is still one of life’s deep pleasures.
That said, online publishing is essential to get me to read offline publishing. I’m not going to pay up for a book unless I’ve heard about it through online channels—a friend’s recommendation on Facebook, a great review on HTMLgiant, a podcast mention. There’s too much amazing content out there for me to bet my bucks on an unknown, and online tools are the best way to let me know about it.
In short, online publishing is a terrific venue to capture my attention—but a terrible venue to hold it for long.
Matt Stewart is the author of the first-ever twittered novel, French Revolution, due out from Soft Skull Press in July 2010. Some of his work has appeared at the Huffington Post, Instant City, and McSweeney’s. See ASF’s post on his novel.
Check back tomorrow—we’ll be posting up new thoughts from writers on online publishing all week.