Good News and Random Thoughts on Writing
I guess I might be doing paid blogging under my own name soon. How about that? I’m excited! And maybe a bit introspective.
I’m not going to lie, it all still weirds me out sometimes.
I write. I don’t make new words, I don’t, generally, make new thoughts. I just take old ideas and old words and add new packaging. Sometimes it seems absurd to be paid for this. Not in the least because I did it for free, for years. Hell, most the writing I do is still for free. Everything, the paid, the free, it can be compressed into a few gigabytes, and be stored, transmitted, or duplicated as quickly and often as you please. Everyone who reads this gets their own copy delivered straight to their screens.
DING! ORDER UP!
It’s not art, though. Really, it’s not. Writing is not art. Sometimes I feel like I’m the guy in the Emperor’s New Clothes who’s convinced everyone he’s making something wonderful, and they just can’t see it because they’re not clever enough. “Oh yeah, I write things, professionally. You should totally pay me, because you couldn’t do this.”
I guess what I do for money is more like the Pied Piper, though, isn’t? I make my money by taking people’s minds in a direction. And you know what? That is a serious skill (and you should always pay the Pied Piper) but it’s all a bit intangible. I say intangible, but there’s a science to it. There are ways to craft sentences, present blogs and writing, times and places to present it to get certain responses and reactions. I don’t always do them, mind you, but there is a reason for what you see on the internet, what you like, and so on. It follows relatively predictable patterns. That’s what you have to remember about it all.
If everyone’s a writer, I suppose the good ones are professionals at looking through other peoples’ eyes. If that’s true then, of all the careers I ever could have picked, this might be the one I’m least suited for. Genes made me smart, genes made me big and strong–I, and the people who raised me, have put considerable effort into amplifying and encouraging those predispositions, but I had just about finished college before other people really worked their way into me. It happened a little at a time. There wasn’t a moment of epiphany, it was a slow process, and at the end of it I had a lot friends I cared about, a lot of people who actually cared about me. I moved from a world of black boxes to a world of relationships.
That’s what I have to tap into when I write. Even the mundane things. That understanding that all of us–though I do not even believe in God–God are we lights in the darkness. We are just this mess of fiery want and need and hope. Hopes and dreams and love . . . many people, maybe most people, are small, but there is an intensity to people nothing in the world truly matches.
I have been wrong so many times, and failed in so many different ways . . . and yet here I am. It’s easy to forget that the people we meet, though they exist in that instant for us, each have an existence like ours, different in length and path, direction, but it’s there, ahead and behind. But, if you want to influence the direction they’re headed, you have to remember that.
It’s the difference between good fiction writers and bad fiction writers, too. Good ones get that the fake people they’ve created are creatures in motion, confused, overwhelmed, unsure of their fates, and presented by the same choice we are: Die, or keep going.
There’s the other side of writing, mind you. The flow of words to build, create, push and change. Creating worlds that never were to change the way people see the world that is. That’s beauty, and power, and, maybe, art. The greatest moments, though, are in describing the world as it is, in a new way. Sometimes–maybe most of the time–changing perception does more than changing the reality. I suppose that’s a nonsensical idea, that changing the perception of reality changes reality more than actual changes to reality. Better to say that perception is the fulcrum which we move to change our reality . . . the strength to change reality from its course outright is largely beyond us.
There is frustration in it, too. Seeing the shape of something, almost there, and yet not. There is no greater curse than nearly the right words. Creation is a hungry thing, though. Living is a hungry thing. Life devours. The act of devouring is living, and nothing lives like us.
And nothing shapes our lives like the words which determine our perceptions of the world.
I think that’s enough babbling for now. There will be more, later, of course.