21 September 2007

Writer, Not Waiter

Lately I've been writing fiction again. (No, not here.) Despite some success in creating stories others are willing to read, I'd abandoned that practice in favor of more remunerative work. In other words, I wrote primarily to get paid. (No, not here.)

Writing is a solitary effort; it can be nothing else. Yes, ideas can be discussed, drafts can be bandied back and forth between writers, editors and readers, but in the end, one person will sit down--alone--and produce words leading to a finality. And unless those words receive some form of return, whether it's money, fame, notoriety, gratitude or criticism, there's an emptiness that exacerbates the void created in the effort.

Blogs are a form of immediate feedback, a way of reducing the writer's solitude because the very act of blogging implies an ever-present audience. Unlike other forms of writing--say a magazine article or a book--the blogger's audience is merely a "Post this" click away. I have stories written almost 20 years ago that have never been read by anyone but Me, but I am certain that every post in Jenius and GCSPrank has been read dozens, if not hundreds of times. In that sense, these pieces here may have been more "successful" than My stories.

But is that why I stopped writing stories? Because I wanted or needed an immediate audience? No, not really. I stopped writing stories because My time required a better investment. And yet, I continued to write here, where the investment return is certainly not money. Why?

Because writing here is how I manage to assuage the need to write. It's been said that people who wait to write are waiters, not writers. Even on My days of rest, I write, even if it's a short note or some potential ideas for posts, columns, articles or stories. I need to write like I need to eat: I seldom have to do it right this minute, but I have to it every day.

Some of My best writing, I think, has come in letters, or e-mails. Because the audience is there, is often well-known and sometimes well-loved, the act of writing becomes free, spontaneous and pleasurable. Other forms of writing lack that sense of connection, and in fact, may suffer from trying to make it happen. "Writing to the reader" is often the sign of a bad writer, but unless the writer can create a meaningful connection to the reader, his/her work will go unread.

The trick of course, is to not focus on the reader so much as to be aware of the reader and let the act of writing find its own voice and pace. To achieve that without feedback is so hard that maybe blogging is a way of "exercising the writing muscles" with less risk than a short story or a novel.

I obviously speak of bloggers who are writers and not just exhibitionists, the difference being evident in the quality and tone of the posts. Unfortunately, it is the latter who seem to garner the most attention and smudge the image of the rest of Us.

As to why someone would continue to labor in solitude, writing an ever-growing number of words about a topic near and dear to the heart, with little hope of fame or fortune, then one must look a little deeper, beyond a simple to need to write to a more significant source. In My case, it's the need to at least make the effort to bring about change. And though I feel it's My unique motivation, I think it's far more common than I would allow Myself to imagine.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Ana Oquendo said...

You mean you've been holding out on us? Hmmmm!

May all your writings be King, Martin, Cervantes or Asimov. And may all your critics be dead.

Unknown said...

What Anibal said.

Plus, you may like this Writing Hacks series: