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When the Last Lighthouse Keeper Retires: What AI Means for Writing

Some folks are all hyped up about how AI is making their jobs as writers easier—from outlining to research to organizing ideas and creating marketing plans. They’re psyched.

On the other end of the spectrum, many authors complain about the glut of AI-generated garbage on Amazon that’s making their books harder to find.

One prominent author I know had her identity stolen and abused when someone published AI-generated books (full of inacuracies and crummy writing) under her name.

A mom I know lost her corporate PR job, when the majority of her department were replaced by AI.

So, what’s the upshot for writers? Should we be scared? Cautiously optimistic? Should we revolt by refusing to use OtterAI, OpenAI and ChatGPT? Should we demand laws to protect us?

My Response to AI

I may be a luddite (who happened to graduate from MIT), but I, for one, am doing what little I can to prevent AI from using my content to replace me or misuse my intellectual property. I’m avoiding ChatGPT, Otter.AI and other programs, so at least I am not training them directly, to the best of my knowledge. Of course, that doesn’t stop AI from using our books—yet. The Author’s Guild is advocating for that to change.

Advocacy is an important part of this battle and I’m happy to see The Author’s Guild advocating on the behalf of authors and our rights with our legislators and through the legal system.

Photo by Daniel Brubaker on Unsplash

However, as a writer and a poet, I can’t help but wield my pen as my first line of defense. And so, after reading about the forced retirement of the very last lighthouse keeper in the US, Sally Snowman, I drafted six different poems in attempts to capture my response.

While my sixth poem, which I am about to share with you, may seem a bit flippant at first glance, I hope it speaks to you between the lines of easy rhymes.

Thank you to my friend and colleague Michael Larsen, co-author with Jody Rein of How to Write a Book Proposal, for forwarding the article on retiring Lighthouse Keeper of Boston Light, Sally Snowman.

The Last Lighthouse Keeper

Here is my sixth poem:

The Last Lighthouse Keeper

When the last lighhouse keeper is forced to retire

will she become a poet and light our way in iambic pentameter?

Or will AI come for the poets, too?

And, if so, what will we do?

Play a game of meet and greet?

Throw our couplets at its feet?

I, for one, am not quite done.

I call on you to join me, too.

Wirte a sonnet; write haiku.

Write in free verse and Seuss-a-loo.

Write in forms not yet invented,

our obsolescence circumvented.

Your Turn: What’s Your Response to AI?

How are you using, avoiding or being abused by AI and its users?

  • What are your hopes?
  • Is there anything you love about AI?
  • Hate?

Share your concerns. What are you doing in response?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Lisa Tener says

    I suppose, just to prove how stupid, heartless and disturbing AI is, I got this email this morning in response to this post, which I had shared on LinkedIn:
    “Hi Lisa,
    “We recently came across your impressive background as a Book Writing Coach, Book Proposal Coach, Author, Creativity Catalyst at Write Your Book and believe you could be an excellent fit as a creative writing Specialist at xxxxxx.
    “As a creative writing Specialist, you would play a crucial role in improving the future of AI models! This position offers you the chance to stay at the forefront of AI developments while earning some additional income – $25/hr!
    “Based on your qualifications, we’d like to fast track you through the normal onboarding process via this expedited sign-up experience! Skip the usual domain expertise exam, browse around, learn more, and start earning money.”

    Wow, a whole $25/hour for this MIT-educated writing professional who taught for 13 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course and has won numerous book and business awards. I suppose I should take the money and run before AI has removed all other sources of income for writers/teachers/coaches? They’re even offering to waive the usual domain expertise exam. Man, they must have used that smart AI to identify and vet me. How impressive!

    But let’s face it, even if it’s not that smart now, soon it will be, after we all (everyone who uses AI for anything) train it. And since the search engines are using AI, we are all using and training AI, right?

    And this is why we need legislation!

  2. Nikki says

    Hi Lisa,
    Wondering if there is a need for an editor with rhyming poetry. I have shared my poems, and they have been well-received. And I have had offers to buy them for websites and other uses. But I have not had an editor look at them. I also noticed that in some books with rhyming poetry, there is no punctuation.
    Best wishes for 2024. Nikki

    • Lisa Tener says

      It’s always a good idea to have a poetry editor:
      1. They can suggest what would make the poem most accessible and powerful.
      2. If it needs grammar or punctuation, they can do that for you.
      3. They can make sure you are consistent in your choices. This is important because it’s distracting and harder on the reader if you are inconsistent and it also makes your work look less professional if you are inconsistent. COnsistency is good for your readers and your brand/reputation.
      4. If you are interested, they can also suggest how you might develop the poem or revise it.

      If you like, I can suggest a poetry editor who worked in a publishing house for several years and is very experienced and can edit at whatever level you prefer.

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