- Books, Literature, and Writing
Writing Carries With It A Responsibility
An Admission Before We Begin
I admit it! I am a writing snob. There, my secret is now out in the open for all to reflect upon. I will even take it a step further and say that I am proud of my snobbish approach to writing.
I remember my high school and college days, bent over one of the Classics, wading through the words of a writing legend, trying to absorb it all and somehow learn to write by osmosis. At a fairly early age I respected those works, somehow subconsciously understanding the long hours necessary to construct such marvelous treasures.
I imagined the sheer tonnage of hours that went into such a work, the laboring long into the night just to find the perfect word, the perfect phrase, that would capture for all the meaning intended.
I marveled at the determination necessary to excel in that craft, the years that were spent in anonymity and I imagined the torment as self-doubts crept in and the authors wondered if they would ever be recognized and become successful.
This was, of course, before self-publishing. The word “ebook” had not entered the literary scene, and for a writer to “make it” in the world of literature there had to be a perfect alignment of the stars and planets. Some were never recognized during their lifetime, and only after their death did praise come their way. Decades spent juggling verbs and nouns only to die never having had their works read by the public…..a scenario that each of them faced as they continued to polish their craft.
So it is in their honor that I write this reflection. May the lessons they taught us forever stay with us, and may we climb upon their shoulders each and every day that we write.
So What Is the Point?
The point is a very simple one my friends: writing is a craft and as such should be treated with respect.
So many types of writing these days….we have the SEO content writers and we have those who write for newspapers. We have magazine article writers and we have bloggers. We have those who would be the next great novelists and we have those who simply write as an outlet and expression of their ids.
No matter the type of writer that you are, it must always be remembered that writing is a craft.
A craftsman toils for hours, days, months and years to perfect his craft. The idea of settling for mediocrity should never enter the mind of a craftsman. An artist, a sculptor, a musician or a writer, all should be…..should be….attempting the impossible, namely to reach perfection. Of course it can never be attained, but that should not deter the effort nor alter the goal.
Why? Simply because we are talking about an art form.
Yes, I believe those words and so, I am a writing snob.
The Genre and Style Matter Not
It makes no difference if you are an SEO keyword specialist. It makes no difference if you write children’s poetry or spin tales of western adventure in 1850. Hop aboard a space ship bound for Mars or take the anal temperature of a local politician. Whatever you choose as your avenue of writing, do it well and continue to improve….or stop writing.
I have no patience with mediocrity and I’ll be glad to tell you why.
We have been given a precious gift. We are on this planet a limited number of years, and it is my belief that we should be wringing every ounce of living out of that time as we can….and….it is also my belief that to settle for mediocrity is to cheat ourselves and those around us.
It is beyond me why anyone would want to do that. Why spend one hour writing pablum for the ignorant when you could spend days writing a feast for the enlightened? Why place your name firmly among the millions who are pleased with drivel when you can soar with those who understand that man was not created to crawl.
When I was a teacher in a previous life, I would hand back to students their papers if they did not show improvement over the previous work. In other words, the bar was constantly being raised and I expected them to meet each new standard of excellence. Naturally there would be an irate parent wondering why their child’s work was rejected when they had done the minimum required, and my response was always the same: the work was rejected because they had done the minimum required.
Steinbeck did not become Steinbeck by meeting minimum requirements. Blake and Bronte, Hawthorne and Hemingway, none of them went to bed at night satisfied with meeting minimum requirements….and you shouldn’t either!
So Here Is My Message to You
If you are not making every attempt to improve in your writing then you really shouldn’t be writing. If you are not trying to improve your writer’s voice and develop rhythm; if you are not trying to expand your vocabulary and alter your style; if you are doing none of these things then please, step aside and let serious writers rise to the top without having to battle their way through the logjam of complacency and apathy.
I don’t care if all you do is write recipes. I don’t care if you write “how to” articles or if you write about the Top Ten Rock Songs. No matter your topic and no matter your style, do it better.
I can’t possibly be the only one fed up with half-assed efforts that are labeled literature. For the love of Edgar Allen Poe, take pride in your craft and make every effort to improve, or go take up crochet or bridge as a hobby and leave writing to those who understand that it truly is one of the arts.
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One Final Word and Then I’ll Leave You to Practice
I believe that writers are my peers. I do not believe that writers are my competition. I want to help you but I can’t do it if you do not ask for help. You can contact me any time and I’ll be happy to give what assistance I can. You can contact me and I’ll be happy to have you do a guest posting on my writing blog. I want nothing in return. I have helped quite a few writers and received nothing for it other than the satisfaction that comes with reaching out a hand of assistance.
Are you stuck in your writing? Drop me a line. Are you mired in a slump, or is your career hitting rock walls? Drop me a line. The teacher in me wants to instruct. The human in me wants to help.
May all of you write your personal best this week, and then write a new best the next week, and then a new……
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”