The process of writing is hard, really hard. Its painful and wrenching, elusive and callous; it exposes the soul in a way that nothing else does. When one writes, it reveals parts of oneself, part’s of ones subconscious mind, that teaches us as much about ourselves as our reader. You reveal something about your education level, or at least whether or not you paid attention during English; you reveal your anger and sadness, your political leanings and life philosophy…….your logic. Whether your writing fiction, poetry or a blog, these qualities can not be hidden. But mostly, more then any other artistic medium, you reveal your heart.
This is as scary a thing as we can do; to be vulnerable to friends and complete strangers alike, to open ourselves up to inevitable criticism and ridicule, to be misunderstood, to be revealed in ways that we never knew possible, parts of ourselves unknown even to us but seen clearly by others and also to accept the idea that once we express our thoughts into the universe we have no control over others perceptions, of it, of us, of any of it. That part doesn’t belong to us any more. Like any artist, once our art is out there, it belongs to the world, and with it a piece of our soul.
Trying to be what others want us to be is always just a guess anyway.
When I was painting a lot, I noticed that my mind would work not always in a creative or imaginative way, but in an analytical, mathematical way. Trying to get the colors and images to work together to form some cohesion even if only I could see it was surprisingly one of logic, patterns and problem solving. I was amazed by this revelation; often with writing my mind bends to the same criteria, wrestling with form and grammar reminds of business school where I had to make those tortuous accounts receivable and payable graphs work; there’s a room in hell where this is ones only distraction.
As Hemingway stated, “It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.”
Anytime someone aspires to move the world through simply their own individual vision of the reality around them, realized through a particular medium, sometimes people wont get it, or like it, or believe it. The key for any artist is to do it, because its what you do and with writing we’re especially vulnerable, our resources for deflecting, absorbing, and assimilating critiques and criticisms must be well developed; or at least our ability to fake it until we make it.
Some of the advice I have read from successful authors that I find very instructive and illuminating are of the more abstract and inspiration based, even when they were advising against inspiration as motivation. They are of the sort to not wait for passion, just put your head down and do it. I have found this to not only be the most difficult (to write when I don’t ‘feel it’) but also the most helpful. Like going to play tennis or run when you don’t ‘feel like it’ is never a mistake; it has always been the right decision, for me anyway, once you start the instincts just take over and your rolling. Writing or any type of art, I have found, is the same way. The advice never centers on punctuation or vocabulary….. just on content, get it down……worry and edit later.
The first rule of language is understanding, not correct grammar or elegant prose but simply can the reader understand and feel what your trying to say, this is the fundamental challenge of writing. Bad grammar can be a distraction and pull the reader out of your story and into the mechanics of the writing, the spell broken, in this way the structure is important, but form, in part, is a product of the times, anyone who reads Shakespeare or Moby Dick will understand that.
The thing about writing though is no matter how hard it is to start and how tortuous to craft my meaning as clearly as possible is, I always feel so much better after, and it’s not just the accomplishment of creating something, it’s the release of whatever it is that has been bottled up inside, I feel lighter somehow, clearer, the creative buzz exhilarating.
That is why I write.