Were I to have been asked to write an article giving advice to young writers, I would probably have begun by discussing the absolute necessity of having some real excitement about just putting pen to paper or laying one’s fingertips on a qwerty keyboard.
If you haven’t got that, meaning that you don’t get a kick out of just watching those letters tumble onto the screen, then you had better cut out now while you are ahead.
I personally have been writing for as long as a can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories is penning a poem on the stone windowsill of the window in my room with a light summer wind blowing into my face.
Yet an earlier memory is holding an over-sized, black lead pencil and learning to form letters between the red and blue scored lines of a nearly manila piece of A5 paper.
Writing must, in short, have a thrill to it. If you don’t have some kind of immediate, unrelenting tactile gratification from it, then then there is just no point, as I said above, in pressing ahead.
That’s because real writing is a very painful, though voyeuristic experience. You may be seeing in to other peoples’ minds and may well find yourself pulling characters directly out of the facets of your own psyche. Not always a pretty dish to set before the king, to say the least.
Perhaps you can beat the rap by doing writing exercises like describing your room, some hidden sanctum of a garden or the must unforgettable person you have ever met. But if writing doesn’t mean more to you rather than mere self-expression, then you are off to a handicapped start.
Great writers, even good writers do it because writing is a kind of sickness for them, as Liza Doolittle might have said. And that is because authors can’t be done with personal or imagined experiences until they rid themselves of it by making int the kind of meaningful construct popularly considered art.
Art in this context is not something that belongs in anthologies and hangs in museum, just whatever is contrived rather than real.
As such, art is often more tantalizing than reality and more fun than fantasy, depending on how well the writer has done the job of sorting and translating what he has endured into the system of sounds, rhythms and connotations that we call language.
That means that the artist – in this case the writer – takes experience and remakes it into a kind of controlled substance.
Nor is it that the artist, as it were, always comes out on top.
A writer who has written something up, whether his personal experience or one that he endured vicariously, is now done with it. That piece of past or vision no longer has a hold on him. But that is only because the two of them – the author and his subject – have both suffered the awesome process of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
Fulfilling his incumbent duty to fashion reality into something that will trespass inexorably on his reader’s mind has ultimately set that bit of the authors being apart from him in terms of both feeling and even private ownership.
Once it has been written, expressed and — better yet — printed and published and read, the author is at last at rest.