Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” ~Author Unknown
Today let us take a look at the convention of writing. There is much ado about everything where it comes to some valued scribe sitting down to let the art within him/her flow from their cranium down the writing arm and through the fingers onto the page. Some would call it bleeding on the page, while others speak of using a God given talent. Many would tell you that it is a noble profession. And still others will tell you that it is a wonderful dream. They will all be correct. They will also all be wrong.
That writing is something to be admired is a safe supposition. It is safe to say that sitting at a writing table, or taking your laptop to a coffee shop with Wi-Fi and penning (or rather typing) a story while you gulp down copious amounts of high priced caffeine, is a relatively honorable way to earn a living. What no one will tell you is what the cost is to you. Will what you’re writing be of enough value to sustain you? Will the content and theme end up as you thought it would? Do you care about what you just wrote, or did it occur for the paycheck? Do you have an emotional attachment to the work?
These and many other questions can be answered by stating that the story you tell is what is important and nothing else. “Of course I have an emotional attachment to the book” might be the lie you tell others. The emotion you feel is commensurate to what the story is. Truman Capote, an enormously popular writer, wrote a hugely successful book which earned an astronomical amount of money and inspired movies and films galore…stopped writing.
This legendary tome is the story of a pair of convicts who kill a family of four in the course of a home invasion. What many do not know is that, as a part of the research for the book, Capote interviewed the men and got to know them. After they were executed the book was published. With the exception of a few magazine articles Capote never published another word. What emotion went through him to stop the creative process and force him into a self-destructive lifestyle of an alcoholic? Where did the writing he was doing take him after he had the knowledge it took to write the book in the first place? Beware of your feelings when inspired to write…they will tell you things you do not want to hear, or make you see things you do not wish to see.
Sometimes, though, it is impossible to do anything else but write. Anyone who writes can tell you that ideas come from everywhere. If all the ideas in the world ended up as books, the entire world would be in the publishing business. It is only the writer that gets to view the world and decide what needs to be shared. It is only the writer that has the love of words so acute that they are given the gift or ability to string them into coherent, attractive narratives.
So where is the idiocy in this? Not in the very action of writing. What is idiotic about writing is the part of it where one must, if they choose, attempt to receive payment for their efforts. In the modern world of electronic miracles, hard economic times, and rampant reaching-for-the-stars that is having a book published, the odds of attaining fame and fortune are astronomical. There are so many hurdles to leap along the way that frustration might take over. Writing is its own reward, getting people to read what you write is more work than the actual writing.
The Internet has been a huge boon to the writing world and, regrettably, it has also become a quagmire of anger, frustration, and exasperation. Yet, hope springs eternal in that persistence will allow a writer to reap rewards and find a voice for the masses.
The appropriateness of the tradition comes in the knowledge or belief that the world would be a little less than wonderful if writers ceased to amaze the public with their musings. This wonder is a necessary part of life. The insincerity of other forms of expression can have deadly effects.
We live in a world that has no foundational moral code. Yes, there are those that would dispute this, but the real question is why then is there so much horror in our daily lives? Each and every day, any major news feed has more reports of violence then beauty. A better method of proving this fact is out there. It is in the minds and fingers of writers, so too, is the answer to the horror, and the promotion of the beauty. It is in seemingly appropriate nitwits that the truth can be seen.
So what must these cretins-of-the-pens do? They must “endeavor to perceiver” (Forrest Carter in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”) and soldier on. The real corruption in society today is the apathy and seeming meaninglessness of life. It is the scribe that infuses hope back where it has been lost. It is this same illuminator that allows for the dreams that shape the future, and honor the past.
However, it is the responsibility of the writer to detail that which is true. Not what he/she believes, wants, or feels is true, but the absolute veracity from which their words originate. Harsh standards for sure, but the practice offers gifts along with the agony. Writing is its own reward. When the scribe believes this, then they can truly say “I am a writer” and ignore such as this:
“I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” Unknown English Professor