What makes a Writer ?
by Chris Owen
Process: Drawing Breath
(to stop and look back as if from a high hill to evaluate your work
and decide the way forward)
I would like first to apologise for my non-attendance at last meeting due to circumstances beyond
my control (the spirit was willing but the flesh is weak)
I read something the other day that I would like to share with you all.
Apart from a generally held concept, writers, especially yours truly, can be prone to the following:
‘We cling to the past like a frayed security blanket, haunted by crushing failures rather than approaching each new day as a fresh opportunity to learn, grow and behave differently.’
A simple epithet that is one of those universal truths we choose to reject or ignore until the logic of it becomes overwhelmingly self-evident.
Writing, by definition is about moving forward, into the unknown, where anything can happen.
We all must embrace change : constant change is here to stay, as the old chestnut states, however painful it may seem. However, the cornerstone of the approach to writing will never change from the universal creative concept. An author’s original concept must take shape and form until it bursts onto the page.
Or in this case cyberspace; for in this paperless age and we must all embrace IT in some form or other. We have a Twitter president and a whole Facebook community that shapes the way we think and act and more importantly – read; whether to absorb information or for pure escapism.
Writing can be disseminated on so many media platforms these days, a sheet of paper seems redundant. Alas all the parchment and duck quill pen makers shops shut many years ago.
This idea of permanency of the printed word is deep-rooted. Novels seemed legitimate only if they appeared in paper form via – book publishers, newspapers or periodicals etc.,
This concept is dying if not dead, although it is pleasing to note that pulp has fought its way back to the top by out-selling kindle books for the first time in years – judging from last year’s sales.
I also want to speak more about the arduous nature of that task of writing; as like that runt of the family once it is born onto paper (or cyberspace) it becomes the ugly child that must be honed into an accepted form. Perhaps we can over-edit over-polish until the gilt rubs off and the base metal appears beneath and the magic of the idea evaporates. Pablo Picasso summed up the artist’s dilemma : ‘A work of art is never really finished, it is merely abandoned.’
Not that we are all writing masterpieces but this statement does apply to any original work.
Recently I have been reviewing old ideas, scripts, novel ideas and wondered if they could or should be developed further – or simply written-off (no pun intended) and new work started.
Perhaps I am talking out of my proverbial — but the following universal truth remains self-evident.
Write for your self first and then others – the rest is down to marketing the product of your work.
Perhaps like Philip K Dick, Norman Mailer, Franz Kafka or even Shakespeare, most writers of their time remain relatively ignored and have to die first before their work is universally appreciated.
Ben Jonson, a contemporary to Shakespeare, said of him in the preface to the first folio in 1623:
‘He was not just a writer of his age – but for all time.’
He could not have known or even guessed the enduring truth of his own words. Shakespeare will indeed continue to influence succeeding generations ‘for all time’.
Which brings me back to my previous missives on the subject – that your personal, unique concept of the human condition; your angle on life based on your own experiences which inevitably colours your work – may be the style that people latch onto. The next big thing we’re all waiting for in literary terms. People may dig – your groove, your wavelength – to use sixties parlance.
Keep up the good work. Keep writing
See you on the other side – where fame and fortune awaits us all.