The Wretched World of Writers(observations of a wretch)
Let me precede this piece by saying, I am or was guilty of each and every single thing I am about to outline. As a writer I am immersed in a world of writers. A hopeless and very fruitless life pursuit(for the 99%). The unending flow of hopeless writers and aspiring to be hopeless writers is almost depressing.
Youth brings many writers out of the woodwork. Penning what they believe is simply the best and most original pieces in existence. At this point you are so inexperienced and delusional that you are certain it will only take dropping your piece on a teacher’s desk and you will soon be in the ranks of Anne Rice or J.K Rowling. I don’t think any of the youth know or at least respect Hemingway, so I didn’t use him as an example.
This first phase whittles down the field. Many stop writing after their first piece, they just keep running around shoving it in peoples faces or making them sit and listen as they read the thing. They always talk about the novel they are going to write, although not one single word has hit a page. When these things fail to impress anyone the ‘writer’ fades into nothingness, becoming a call service agent. A rare breed go back to work on their writing skills and return later.
Most Artists, including writers, but mainly musicians and writers, can be some of the most arrogant and self-absorbed people on the planet. In my bar, I see it all the time. Small town, tiny, tiny, bar and the lead singer is acting like Lady Gaga about to perform at the dropping of the Big Apple. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. I feel as artists/writers we must humble ourselves. Even though most of you will screech in terror at this observation I must tell you, “If you are an artist or writer or whatever you wish to call yourself you are not ‘gifted’ or ‘special’ or even ‘talented’.” But what if you are published?
Let me state, Because you are published does not mean you are either ‘gifted’ ‘special’ or even ‘talented’. Just like shit television, there are shit publications and most of the time it is actually up to who you know or your financial status that gets you on the shelves of Wal-mart. But this piece isn’t about class issues or even published authors. This is about the Wretched World of Writers.
I have been part of the online writing workshop thing for awhile. This process could cure you of ever wanting to be associated with any writers ever. Much like the musicians I described above, writers will blaze into a workshop, coming out of nowhere, dump that piece they wrote in high school, then precede to tell all their friends they write for Chuck Palahniuk’s website, dropping his name and talking as if you two will be co-writing a novel together soon. The Workshop is a tool to improve your writing, not to impress people, not to blow other writers out of the water, not to attract the attention of Chuck Palahniuk. Humble thyself and just use the tool. Don’t use it to promote yourself, don’t use it to get published, use it to improve yourself. BECAUSE YOU NEED IMPROVEMENT.
Some of the most arrogant writers I have seen are people who went into debt paying to learn to write, because they believe this is the fast track to becoming the literary demi-god they see themselves as. These people come blazing into the workshops, wielding their degree and their college project piece like it is the Ten Commandments of God. Let me be clear I am not saying it isn’t the Ten Commandments, not once have I mentioned that any of these writers are ‘shitty’ writers. I couldn’t say that and wouldn’t. What is shitty and not shitty is so subjective anyway, unless in reference to some mainstream media, then it just stinks so bad you can’t deny it. This piece isn’t titled The World Of Shit Writers, and so I will not digress further into this rabbit trail.
The biggest delusion that most writers have is about how epic their piece will be. Well it’s not Epic! It isn’t going to shake the world to its knees and have them throwing roses and virgins at your feet. A piece is a piece. Nothing more. It is no more meaningful or less meaningful than a thought. Groom it, care for it, share it, love it, but never value it and above all else never value you ability to write. The only value you should have is being super fucking grateful it came out of you. Be thankful you can write and leave it at that. Don’t be an arrogant ass because you can write, don’t value your thoughts more because you can put them on a page. This will lead to the Wretched World I am speaking about.
Heed this warning for if you do not adjust your attitude about your writing ability you will lose it. Like the frustrated teen from the first paragraph you will become so upset you will stop writing altogether. If you become discouraged because your writing isn’t causing people to weep and plead to make your acquaintance your gift will suffer, even worse yet it will leave you.
If you can shed the ‘importance’ factor from your writings. If you can separate yourself from how awesome your pieces are, and how awesome you are, I promise you your writing will become very pure and real, almost angelic. The saddest thing is that once you reach that point, once everything you write becomes gilded gold on a page, you will be so humble that you won’t even notice it. You will just cast it into the pile of gold you have been recording your whole life and write another wondrous piece.
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