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Original-Inspirational vs. Informational Online Writing
When Creative Has to Mean Original
The following parallel apparently has nothing to do with the main theme of this article, except that it serves as another example of a writing obstacle to someone who insists on his originality----namely myself.
There was a time, and I must be talking several decades ago, when I was investing a decent effort into oil painting, which was at the time another hobby, my second favorite after reading. Being of a European background and knowing quite a few people of European ethnical communities I quickly got myself a mini market for my artwork.
Those were mostly some kids' portraits that I made from photos, and picturesque parts of their home towns which had a special nostalgic and sentimental value to them. Well, the market got exhausted after a while, and my interests drifted to something else.
But, it's not the commercial part of it that bears any significance here, but rather a lack of challenge that was unavoidable, while so many of my customers would want "the same picture you made for my sister". At times I was honestly agonizing over an empty canvas having to duplicate something into which I put all my improvising artistic instinct---which was simply not repeatable.
I remember how I was even making some mistakes there, while not "feeling" for that duplicate. Sometimes my customers would even point out how "they somehow like their sister's painting better".
Well, if that could be characterized as a "problem", then I have the same one with my writing. Especially when it's to do with a choice between my favorite creative-inspirational and that apparently popular informational genre.
Those Magic "How-to" Titles
Namely, I could easily go to my library, my old "alma mater" before the invent of internet, pick up some half a dozen books on various informational topics and do whatever other writers of that "how-to" genre do---reword a text and sell it for "mine". I guess that's what they call "research", and nobody seems to mind.
Other than that, there is a treasure of library information about all kinds of topics: exotic birds, rare insects or fishes, mating rituals of various animals, or a whole string of the world's touristic attractions...you name it. Before you know it, I would become a very versatile and fruitful informational writer. And you know what? It a kind of looks appealing, now that I think about it.
If I could only overcome this terrible aversion to regurgitating other's literary stuff. It's good for those folks who like writing but have none of their own original inspirations; or those who insist on a volume of their literary opus. Probably sells good too; if it didn't, we wouldn't have a McDonald just couple of blocks apart on the same street.
That "how-to" stuff really comes handy at times, I must say. "How to remove salt stains from suede shoes", or "Where to dine in Paris" really helps when people need that kind of information.
However, talking about my own inspirations to write, they have to come from within my own mind, my intuition, my heart. My themes gravitate around human nature, or problems of being a human, with now and then an intuitive speculation drifting onto my laptop's "empty canvas".
There was a time when I was also writing poetry, but then I noticed how "philosophical" they tended to be while carrying a message of a life truism. And every time I would make such a poem I felt like I had left so much out yet to be said. That made me switch to essays instead.
Long time before I got a computer, those "smart papers" were all over my home, to my wife's frequent frustration while she was tidying the place. "Do you need these notes, or can I throw them in the garbage?' - would be a regular comment on my "precious labor-pains-of-a-genius" honoring those garbage-like sheets of paper scattered around.
Not Standing on Others' Shoulders to Appear Bigger
Now, my apparent lack of interest in informational literature also stems from myself being basically a meditative, not an action type of personality. Hey, don't get a wrong impression about a "sedentary life style", as life made sure that I have had more than my share of action.
Actually, if you could see me in those many younger years---especially on my various jobs in the field of manufacture---you might get an impression that I was "born to use my hands". Well, I was not, and the rumor has it that I am not one of those folks who would use their head for the sole purpose of wearing a baseball cap.
I just love thinking, and let it not sound like boasting, but in a need for my "thinking material" I had turned into a bookworm, oftentimes doing that marathon kind of reading ranging over some dozen different aspects of human nature. Has it helped me in writing my stuff? You bet, but again, I just won't take a peek into someone's book to get an idea what to write about.
I even insist on omitting the names of some biggies who in the past inspired me, because that would give me a feeling of using them as a literary crutch with a purpose of making my statements "more convincing". Their ideas anyway underwent a good conversion coupled with so much other related stuff.
Before I started writing for this website (here I do it again omitting the name), I tried my writing skills at another one---and I got turned down for this very lack of "resources" mentioned at the end section of my article. In other words, their standards were not allowing me to be original, it had to be a "literary echo" of a biggie in the field. It's good they didn't also ask for an authority's size of shoes as to make the article more impressive.
Now, when it's about human nature, considering a relatively limited repertoire of emotions, attitudes, life styles and mind styles, sooner or later a writer simply has to reword his own positions and views. My wife says I am good at examples and metaphors, so let's see---to me it's like potatoes that can be a part of many different dishes, and some people prefer one over the other.
Likewise, there are different angles of looking at a same human issue, and then I may catch myself repeating a thing or two, simply because it's unavoidable. But then I don't get bothered by it; especially if I think of all those bestselling inspirational writers who in many cases just paraphrase their previous book, both of them turning bestsellers.
They Call It an Age of Information
Now, am I making an impression here as if I have anything against the informational online literature? I hope not; and at this point it could be a right thing to say that the title of my article is not entirely correct, since that "versus" is the Latin for "against". I am using it in a context of weighing one "against" the other, not one "opposing" the other.
Back there I used some of that information myself. Living in a snowy part of Canada I have to put up with a lot of that road salt which makes your dark car look like someone has spilled milk over its windows. But that part doesn't bother me too much, as did that occasion when, by mistake, I put on my new suede shoes and bravely marched onto a slushy, salty road.
Needless to say, those are the times when we are bound to look at what we have done feeling like first class village idiots. So there I went to consult the genius of internet, and moments later I was mixing some white vinegar with water and rubbing the mixture over those ugly stains. To my wife's and my delight, stains were gone.
So, to be perfectly honest, it's for the moments like that that I sometimes get tempted to start writing that useful stuff helping so many people, even those old-timers who don't know what salt will do to suede shoes.
Well, knowing myself I might even do it, just for the hell of the challenge. Nevertheless, not that I would ever abandon my favorite theme about people and their problems of being---well, humans. So, if you ever see my article with a title "how to make flower arrangements", don't think that I got my pebbles mixed up under my baseball cap.
O.K., I did give you a wrong example, I would probably write about something more "masculine" like "how to train your bulldog to do moonwalk" or something. I hope my genuine interests in human issues won't hijack my article about "cleaning your car upholstery" by diverging it into something like "human procrastinating"--- as if having something to do with a reluctance to do some spring cleaning in their heads.
That would be fun reading, I guess. Anyway, there are always enough of those who would friendly-or-not remind me of my title. Who knows, as I am thinking of all this, I might accept that literary challenge.
What about you? Have you ever written or done anything just for sake of a creative curiosity to test your abilities at a field where you never had any previous interests, let alone a passion?