“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” The late philosopher Alan Watts was not referring to the technological revolution of literary culture in the last twenty years, but these words are an unequivocal push for writers unwilling to adapt to the changes in their industry.

We can freely admit that writing isn’t what is used to be. From entry points into the business, to ideas of promotion, to the literal form of novels, technology guarantees that nothing remains constant. Rather than yearning for an age I barely knew, though, I’m choosing to embrace the way social media and the Internet in general has changed our lives.

Instead of relying on an agent to promote their works (though agents are still hugely important to novelists), many authors are joining social media and connecting with their audiences directly and interactively. Respected authors such as Margaret Atwood, Gary Shteyngart and Joyce Carol Oates have joined the 974 million existing Twitter accounts to share a part of themselves with their fans and readers. (Seriously, follow Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter. One of her latest tweets: “Tried to combine #National Hug Day with #Squirrel Appreciation Day with unfortunate results.” Genius.)

But not all writers have joined the bandwagon of social media. Most noticeably, Jonathan Franzen, author of “The Corrections,” “Freedom” and most recently “Purity,” has denounced Twitter as “unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose.” In 2013, Franzen specifically called out commercial women’s fiction writer Jennifer Weiner for her self-promotion via social media. Weiner retorted with an article in The New Republic arguing that Twitter isn’t primarily a means of self-promotion; it’s a way to access the world’s “best cocktail party.”

This literary tussle between Franzen and Weiner represents the undeniable shift in contemporary literary culture. Some, like Franzen, see social media as the worst extension of ourselves, a manipulative way to create a false, misleadingly improved online person. Others like Weiner view it as a fun way to connect with and entertain readers and other authors.

In other corners of the Internet, less established writers have a chance. Sure, there’s some weird Poot Lovato fan fiction and the sorts of obsessive chat rooms that create phenomena like “50 Shades of Grey,” but there’s also some exceptional writing being done. Websites like WordPress and Tumblr allow users to display their work on a free platform and gather an online following. With a large enough online readership, there is almost a guaranteed audience for an actual novel.

The expansion in the relationship between readers and authors is another major development caused by the Internet. We’ve created an incredibly large global locale, one in which we can reach out to someone across the world and get a response as quickly as that of someone across the room. For authors, this means they can be in direct contact with their readership during all phases of writing. When Aziz Ansari wrote his brilliant exploration of different romantic landscapes in the recent novel “Modern Romance,” he reached out to the Reddit community and asked them to share their experiences. Ansari and his co-author, New York University professor Eric Klinenberg, used comments from Reddit users to explain the social phenomena in the book.

We can be so close now to the producers of our literature that we can literally take part in its creation. But social media is also changing the form that literature can take. The definition of what “writing” is has changed since media platforms have allowed everyone to become a writer in some sense of the word. Writing takes place on all forms of social media, but there’s a shift in storytelling form as well. Narratives like “Hey Harry Hey Matilda,” an epistolary novel between a brother and sister, are being told over Instagram, with photos accompanying the serialized text.

While “Hey Harry Hey Matilda” is a thoughtful experiment in social media and its relationship to the narrative form, the presence of social media has spawned some more spontaneous stories. The viral Twitter drama of Zola, which she describes as “long but…full of suspense” was one of the better instances of pop culture in 2015.

Zola is a Hooters waitress who is invited by a customer for a weekend of dancing in Florida, but the excursion quickly devolves into a narrative explosion of strippers, violence and spectacle. After reading the whole story, Ava DuVernay, director of “Selma” and “Middle of Nowhere” wrote on Twitter, “In India reading #Zola. Drama, humor, action, suspense, character development. She can write. There’s so much untapped talent in the hood.”

In the past few years, the Internet has forced literature into somewhat of a crossroads. We’re constantly redefining what it means to be a writer and how to reconcile our preconceived notions of literature with the burgeoning technology at our fingertips. We have a choice to make —  stubbornly linger in the past or bask in the developing democratization of storytelling.

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