Monday, March 8, 2010
Why is it that every mindless, spineless pusillanimous object capable of grasping hold of a pen or pencil deems itself a writer?
People might practice hour upon diligent hour at the piano for untold decades yet dare not deem themselves "pianists." No matter how many years of vocal coaching the aspiring soprano spends toiling to perfect her craft, she is not considered a "singer" until she can sing the song well. A mother who lovingly places a band-aid upon the abraded knee of a child does not think herself a doctor, no matter how miraculously she transforms tears to giggles...nor does the father who waltzes his daughter across the floor, her iny feet balanced upon his, declare himself a dancer, even if each step is perfectly synchronized.
Why is it, then, that everyone who keeps a journal or scribbles thoughts on paper announces to the world that he or she is a great artiste, ready at any moment to challenge poor Willie for his title of "The Bard"? Could it be that most people do not understand what "writing" truly is? Because they see so many volumes (most of questionable quality)by so many different authors lining so many shelves, others assume that anyone capable of thinking up a halfway decent metaphor has talent?
I think that the deception lies in the seamless lyrical uniformity that pulses the vibrant cadence of harmonized theme, place, personalities, and poesy of a truly great work. Like every talented artist, the true writer makes it all seem so easy. The hours, the years spend perfecting the craft (Maybe one day, I'll get there, huh!?) Take place behind closed doors, in secret, quiet corners, or in the odd oasis of color and sound tucked away in some hidden alcove of nature. Few really see the work that takes place or comprehend the slowly smoldering passion to create which fuels a writer on and on and on, even when she fervently prays for the ability to just walk away and be done with it.
For so many of us poor, unfortunate souls, to write is not a choice: it is an irrefutable facet of our underlying quintessence. To not write is to hold one's breath. There is only so long one can do so before instinct, nature, that person's general makeup forces him or her to inhale; and so it is with those who were "born" writers.
So many people just don't understand that.
What set off today's tirade?
A blog, of course.
An associate of mine has written two young adult books while completing at least one other novel and a screenplay. Though best known in the entertainment industry, he is (after many decades) publishing his first work. Does this bother me? No. Albeit he and I have parted company (repeatedly) on acrimonious (at least, on my part!) terms, the pieces themselves are viable works, unique in their vividly conceived settings and gripping senses of "place." Besides, even he does not pretend to be The Great Literary Find. He has always presented himself as a person who enjoys writing and has several interesting stories to tell: not the next Dickens.
The participants in his blog, however, are quite a different matter. I have read, cringing in horror, the attempts to outshine one another in hackneyed, grammatically and syntactically abhorrent prose. Each one is working on that novel. Offerings my fifteen-year-old would be mortified to turn in as rough drafts in an English class are presented with great relish and to the immediate cacophony of praise lavished by counterparts (usually fellow poetasters) grateful for the excuse to submit equally horrific casualties of the pen in kind. (Am I a literary snob? Heck yes! You should hear what I call my own "stuff," ya'll!) And, as always, part of me is fascinated.
Who told these poor, misguided fools they could write?
There are writers and there are storytellers. Not all talented writers are necessarily adept at the art of storytelling; and not all good storytellers are capable of quality writing. Still, there is a place for each; moreover, I think each can retain a degree of respect for the other.
But the screwed-up scribblings I encountered today?
They'll all be available at Amazon before long!
Keep writing ya'll!