People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it. -R.L. Stine, WD
Lately, I have been thinking more and more about what it means to be a writer. As I have begun to put more of my writing out there for the public to view, I have received many different reactions. Some of the reactions that I have gotten seem quite negative but I think these people are missing the entire point of why I write. I have tried before to explain why I write (Why I write) and every time I have tried to explain it I fall short. Today however I want to write about the nature of the writer, which seems like a really hard thing to address because many people already have deep, preconceived ideas about what it means to be a writer.
Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
“When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”
I do consider myself a writer, an author and a successful one at that. I am not trying to sound conceited or all high in the sky. I am not officially published other than winning two poetry contests and writing here on my blog and I am surely not known by anyone other than friends, family, a few strangers and my followers on this blog. As I begin to explain how I see the nature of the writer perhaps then you will understand not only what the nature of the true writer is but also why I am able to call myself a writer.
Many people who are famously published and have their names plastered in literary magazines can ,in fact, write quite well. I even find that I often enjoy books that are critically acclaimed and are written by some of the most known authors. Many of those authors are clearly well known for a reason because they do have a natural talent and way with words. However, there is a huge different between being able to write well and getting published often; and maybe not being able to write well in the sense that any publisher would latch onto the things you write, never getting published but writing because you have stories to tell. What I mean is, I could be asked to write a story this very minute about a small town that gets taken over my a virus and I could write it and maybe write it well where it would be a rather good read. Yet, that would not be the same as if I truly had a story bubbling within in me begging to be told about the very same thing. One was within me all along, pushing at my skin, rattling my fingers until they grasped the pen and bled the story onto the page. The other is out of the craftsmanship and brain power of my mind. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with writing stories by sitting down and conjuring them up so that you can write a story, especially if you do have a natural way of weaving words together. There is nothing wrong, either with writing books because you write in a style that publishers find sell-able. There is nothing wrong with stories that are read purely for the sake of a good story. Most of what I read, I read because it provokes some thought about something in our world somewhere, but a story just for the sake of a story is not a bad thing. What I do frown upon in the world of writers, writing and the publishing industry is that many people write because they can and they write in a way that they know things will get published. Other write empty stories to get their name on the cover of a book, reach “fame” and make some money. This kind of using words to become a writer is what I disagree with. You can’t use words to become a writer. Words use you to tell the stories that are burning to be told, the untold stories that lurk underneath the surface and have perhaps been waiting there for centuries. I can’t stand here and name names because I can never know what goes on in the heart and mind of another human being, but there are authors out there that see writing in a vastly different way than a true writer. A true writer or, I ought to just say a writer, writes not to get published, not to ever necessarily have others stumble across their works, but because they need to breathe and when they exhale words appear on the page before them. They write because without writing they would surely cave in from the weight of all the stories needing to be told within them.
Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
—William S. Burroughs
Why am I a writer? Why am I such a successful writer? Why am I being so bold to make such statements? I write every day, and I write what is within me. Sometimes I write something and then reread it only to be disappointed in what I wrote. The story perhaps did not turn out how it felt within me, but never the less I wrote it and each thing I write is a part of me upon paper. I don’t write in hopes of becoming rich or striking a deal with some publisher. Yes, I do wish to one day get published and far off the hope of becoming a well-known writer is there. Of course, I want people to read what I have to say and in hopes that what I write will one day touch somebody the way that so many things I have read have touched me. Yet, if I reach the end of my life and this is not so, I would still be richer and more successful than many people who only write for the fame and fortune of the art, because in some ways, I never chose the words, the words chose to possess me and infected me with this virus. I must write.
“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.”—William Carlos Williams
That sounds kind of dark and it really isn’t because I love to write, I love every word that falls upon the page, but it really is like that as well, because I have to write.Wheater I have the natural talent, or learned enough of writing to ever be seen as a good writer in the eyes of others or a publisher can very well be up for debate, I won’t argue with anyone on that, but in the nature of a true writer, I feel there is no argument. As haughty and uppity as that may seem, sometimes we need to stand firm in our identity and take control of what we see we have succeeded in. Even if nobody reads this post itself, I will know, and I will know that I wrote this with the heart of a writer.
“A writer flirts with schizophrenia, nurtures synesthesia, and embraces obsessive-compulsive disorder. Your art feeds on you, your soul, and, yes, to a degree, your sanity.
-David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks.
For me and all of those out there who feel the same way and truly know what it means to be a writer, this post is for us. To the writers!
Thank you for reading as always, from writer to reader, it does mean a lot to know that what I write does touch others in one way or another.
“Me and the pen, we are one. If its ink would cease to flow, my ink would cease to flow.”