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A WRITER'S RAMBLES
By: Wayne Brown
So, somewhere along the path of life, the “writing bug” seems to have bitten you and left its venom flowing through your veins…does that about sum it up? The desire to write is much like the bite of a mosquito in that it quickly turns to an itch that begs to be scratched. Much like that first kiss and the questions which arise from it…am I in love or what? All these emotions emerging forth convincing us that we are “born to write” and write we will.
Writing continues to be a strong medium of communications even in a world that teems with growing technological advancement. It remains strong, likely because people still practice the art of reading as a source of knowledge and mind expansion. This is not to say that writing does not change, like most things with a perpetual flair, it evolves with the times. In early times, man was relegated to drawing crude symbols of communication on cave walls. This process gave way to chiseling his message in stone and eventually evolved to ink and paper methods. Readers depended on the written word getting to them through newspapers and books. People relished the arrival of a hand-written letter catching them up on the gossip and events of some other person’s life. Technology brought typewriters then computers and word processors to replace the ink and paper. The Internet tied the world together in a common bond communications medium and writing adapted to the change. Writers have a certain osmosis ability which allows them to get their message out regardless of the medium.
So the urge strikes and we answer the call. At first we write and share it with no one…maybe we don’t keep it at all. It stays hidden for a while as we do not consider ourselves worthy to call ourselves a writer. Over time we share a little with our close friends or a sibling. We test the water looking to find some acceptance, some basis on which to declare that we have truly become a writer in our own right. All the while, the internal flame is burning and growing, getting hotter and more difficult to contain. The release of self-expression is not enough unless it is accompanied by self-exposure. We wrestle with the emotion of actually posting our work and sharing it with others. Is it good enough? Will they laugh? Can I touch their emotion; bring a smile or a tear? Am I capable enough to be called a “writer”? All these thoughts thunder through our minds as we, on the one hand burn with desire to share our work, while on the other try to fight off the fear of rejection if we should fail in our effort. Finally, mustering all of our courage, we hit that magically publish button and seal our fate. Now, we wait to see if someone actually reads the work and refers to us as “writers”. The suspense is numbing to say the least.
What matters most in a good, capable writer? Is it the discipline to sit and put their thoughts down on the page? Is it the intense burning desire to communicate in this medium? Is it the burning need to get what one has to say in the public eye? Is it just a strong imagination that can create almost anything from nothing simply by dwelling on the subject and writing down the thoughts which come to mind? I am not sure that anyone really knows the answer to that question. There are those who teach writing who will give some classroom analysis of the makeup of a good writer as if to say that good writers are simply the product of good teaching. I, for one, do not know the answer but I am quite sure that good, capable writers are not just the product of good teaching. There is much more to the equation.
Consider the person who is in love with the idea of writing. They want to write. They want to be called a writer and associate with those who write. They have a burning desire to achieve that status yet something within them falls short in their effort to turn out a viable product. The result breaks their heart and they plead with others who write successfully to please show them the way. Though they get help when they solicit it, the desired end is never achieved…not after responding to the urge, reading the books, taking the courses, and doing just about everything in their power to become a good, capable writer. It does not happen. The reality here is the ultimate truth that “desire is never enough”. Hollywood is filled with unknown actors driven with desire; Nashville streets are lined with talent that never gets discovered though desire runs in their veins. Desire, in the end, is just not enough.
I never really fell in love with writing. It was not my primary focus. I fell in love with the story. Early on, I wrote things down to preserve the memory of just how it had imprinted in my mind…my childhood, funny things that happened, fantasy of the mind, dark corners not yet searched. Writing was a way to capture that thought and keep it the same. I gave little thought to sharing it. My focus was to preserve. Finally, I allowed my sister to read some of it. She pushed for me to find ways to publish some of the work. I ignored her pleas thinking it rather uppity to place myself in the image of a writer. Surely people would immediately laugh me back into hiding. I risk the potential of rejection.
My sister finally won the tug of war and I published my first piece on memories of my childhood days playing with other kids in the neighborhood and our fears of an old man who lived there. It took all my strength and courage to press the publish button and I was immediately embarrassed as I did it for I knew rejection was coming. For a while, I was dejected waiting for a response. Little did I know that there was a very good chance no one would even read what I had posted. There was a high probability that I, as a writer, would simply become another statistic of the big, big world. My one published piece thrown into the literary world was not even as large as the smallest crumb in the mouth of a tiny ant crawling across an entire universe.
Lucky for me, it did not work out that way. I did gain readership and over a two year period I expanded my output greatly to cover human-interest short-stories, adventures, political perspectives, and yes, even poetry. Surprisingly, the poetry improved my writing abilities in that it slowed down the process and caused me to look more closely at how I relate things, the statements and the words used. When inspiration comes my way, I attempt to convey it to the reader in a form which will grab the reader, hold his/her interest, and touch them at some level of emotion. To this point, inspiration has always come easily to me.
I developed a following of regular readers. Inevitably, some of them always asked the hardest of questions…”how do you write like that?” I have to laugh when I answer the question because I do not really know the answer and I tell them that. I also tell them that desire alone will not do it nor will the reading of a ton of instructional manuals or the completion of a bunch of classes. Those things might help but in the end it will it not be enough if that is all you will have to go on. If I had to guess, I would say the most important thing is that you have something to say and you feel the urge to say it. That urge should be more the focus than just that of a burning desire to “write”. Stephen King advised, “Write what you know.” I think that is very sage advice for it allows the writer to involve a natural persona in the act which will always come through to the reader. It also tends to soften the “mechanical aspect” of writing driven strictly from a “trained perspective”.
I also play the guitar. I play mostly because I had an urge to sing and perform. I have never really had the dexterity to play the guitar well and when I see someone who can do that, I am in awe. I always ask, “How do you do that?” Their answer always seems to be the same…”you have to practice”. I understand that concept and believe it but I have enough personal experience with struggling with guitar to know that it is more than that. Desire alone, in the case of the guitar, will not make one the master of it. If there is a correlation between music and writing, as writers, do we get better with “practice”? Maybe…I certainly can see that it can help in terms of word use, grammar, and sentence construction. But does it improve the overall interest in the piece itself…does it add value which the reader can sense?
The one conclusion I have made is that I no longer place any real importance on whether folks see me as a writer or not. My work is an expression of me, as a person, just as a painting on a canvas represents not only the skillset of the artist but a look inside that person as well. Writing, like painting, is simply the means by which the work takes on a life of its own; it is not the ultimate goal…only the path. Once that awareness comes about, the focus changes and the realization that a burning desire to write can actually be a distraction is evident.
I wrote this piece to stimulate thinking and discussion. We all have our own experiences and beliefs based on those experiences. Ultimately, each of us has to find our own way to what works best. We cannot ignore the importance of grammar, sentence/paragraph structure, and spelling but we also cannot expect the knowledge of those principles along with a desire to be the key elements in determining our success as a writer.
© Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.
19 June 2012