And yet we all write because we love it. Right? I’m not sitting here at my desk thinking about you. I’m actually sitting here thinking about me, about the fact that I know something important and I want you to get a kick out of learning it from me.
Which leads me inevitably to admit that the reader is the only one in this relationship who counts. I might very well have something you need, but if you don’t want it I’ve done all this work for nothing. Not only that, but you’re not here just for what I know, you’re here for the experience of learning it, and even more than that you’re here for the indescribable magic that happens when you find yourself sandwiched between what you’re learning and how you feel about learning it.
That’s the magic that changes a reader’s life. And the writer’s job is working that magic.
I discovered this insightful paragraph during my weekly blog perusing, and a quote that many writers like to express is – I know you know which quote I’m going to say here – “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” — Toni Morrison
Now it’s a very encouraging quote, and maybe I missed the whole gist of it, but may I just say two things: it hasn’t been written because no one is interested. The idea is not good. Just forget it. And two, the majority of people who love this quote (for all those yummy feel-good vibes) don’t have the execution skills to write that story. Bad penmanship that is published today, especially the more popular contemporary novels of today, has only the publishers to blame. Grammar is hardly heeded today, as long as a dollar is involved. The story doesn’t even have to be great. Bad writing inspires bad writers, and writers that should not be writing at all. Perhaps I’m too picky, or perhaps I adhere to the rules of grammar and good storytelling too much, but I generally have no respect or admiration for contemporary authors. Especially the sellouts. There is a certain structure to good books that should always be adhered to. Straying from that architecture and insisting upon writing “in your own style/format” is ridiculous. Unless you are a clone of Dumas or Fitzgerald, then take your hands away from the keyboard and read your classics that have been time-tested and approved. Now I’m not saying that no one should write until they’ve read x amount of classics, just don’t expect to have a good grasp on real fiction from today’s best-sellers.
Also, I’m becoming more and more convinced that there are millions of great unspoken stories yet to come, but being the youthful age that I am, they will not all come in my lifetime. Sometimes, nay, oftentimes when I write, I have that dark spirit whispering in my ear: “That story’s been told before! It’s nothing new, so just toss it!” but being a writer, I push that aside. There’s no choice!
So there’s nothing wrong with writing for your entertainment. Hell, write a sequel your favorite book if it makes you happy. But readers are fickle, typically unenlightened, and from what I’ve seen and read statistics of, like to stick to the same old shmoozy authors that write the same crap over and over, just with different characters. So to heck with trying to write a bestseller, because those big publishing companies would rather get the money-making books than select something of real talent. Real talent is found in indie authors, but not all indie authors. Which is why I really dig the self-published and e-book business. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword. Now anyone can get a book out there (myself included). Doesn’t matter if they still write like a second grader, or if they’ve got the talent of Ernest Hemingway. Finding a good self-published book, and I mean a good one, not a remake of what’s hip, is next to impossible.
One of my favorite writing quotes is by Anton Chekhov, which I found while perusing in the shelves of this trashy place called B & N. I had not even a checkbook to write in, nor the money to buy the book, so it has become a paraphrased jot in my mind that I am loving more and more every day. It goes something like this: When you have finally completed your manuscript, bind it nicely and place it in a chest for a year. After a year, take it out of the chest and burn it.
But anyway, it irks me the amount of people who proclaim themselves as authors and writers, that they have talent and original ideas. And these are the same people who have no clue who Dostoevsky or Thoreau are, or have never read Thackeray and despise Shakespeare. And yet, the illiterate follow the illiterate. And as long as the publishers foresee the dollar sign because they know that many readers are just puppets, the literature illiterate and gross users of the English language may one day be considered acceptable in the Chicago Manual of Style. And what a sad day it would be for humanity.
May I leave with you with some quotes that I do find relevant to a writer.
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.
What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.
Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
-Colette, Casual Chance, 1964
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
-George Bernard Shaw
How vain it is to sit down to write if you have not stood up to live.
-Henry David Thoreau