My daughter often laughs at me, because of my dislike for television. Well, it’s not actually my dislike so much as why I dislike it. I think the television was the worst possible thing to happen to art.

I’m 47, so that makes me pretty solidly Generation X. I grew up with television is my babysitter and my friend. It entertained me, educated me and generally kept me company for my first 20 years. It also really stunted my artistic growth.

Television is a very expensive medium. Everything you see on television is the expensive product of professionals. The problem is that when you grow up seeing professionally produced things as the only art, you absorb the idea that only special people create art. There is no room for the amateur.

Then, along came the Internet and in the past 30 years, we’ve seen an explosion of amateur, semiprofessional, and professional art.

The reason for this explosion, I think, is that no matter what level of skill you are,you can find examples of art that are either one step above or one step below your own in terms of that skill. This is important to the learning curve. If all you ever see our the very best examples, your own faltering first steps can be pretty discouraging.

I started writing fanfiction in 2008. Or rather, I started writing it and showing it to people in 2008. I don’t think I would have shown it to anyone, if I hadn’t have been able to go over to, look at some examples of writing that were just a little bit better than mine.

Even more encouraging, were the fics I could look at and think “oh I can do better than that.” To date I have written six novel length works of fanfiction and two original novels, only one of which I would seriously consider publishing. I would certainly not have done this without the Internet.

I see examples of this all the time. Just go to YouTube. Podcasts have brought back radio dramas and sites like deviant art showcase drawings, paintings etc.

My children have grown up in a world where art is not out of reach.