Am I A Writer?
AM I A WRITER? And Why The Answer Should Be No If You Want To Have A Quiet Life
The Writers’ Shavian Kit
The titular question above is a one that many people have asked themselves over the years, particularly when they have either just turned 14 or just turned 30. It’s not the same as “could I write for a living?” Just glancing through the offerings on the shelves of W H Smiths proves that any buffoon can sell words to the public given enough luck.
This is why writers surround their craft with mystery and use terms like “suspension of disbelief” and “dramatic arc”. It’s an example if what’s called a Shavian Paradox. Named after an Irish writer who was famous for them : George Bernard Shaw. Not George Bernard Shave as one might suppose.
Basically, the more laughably simple a profession is, the more it gets wrapped up in arcane language to disguise that fact. Even doctors do it. They call everything by Latin names, when there are perfectly serviceable English ones. No one really knows why, because there’s nothing simple about being a doctor.
The Unquiet Brain
Being good at writing, or even already earning your living at it, does not make you a writer; putting coherent words onto paper is a skill which can be taught, like any other. The only reason everyone doesn’t do it is because it does actually take rather a long time, and unless you get very lucky indeed, it doesn’t actually pay all that well. A typical mid list author will see far less money for the hours he spent writing a book than he would have done had he spent those hours flipping burgers in a fast food restaurant.
What does make you a writer, rather than someone who writes, is the Unquiet Brain. This is an unfortunate affliction whereby ideas come to you unbidden, day and night, whether you want them to or not. The ideas build up and if you don’t get them out somehow, they drive you nuts. Doesn’t matter if you desire to earn your crust via wordsmithery or not.
Your ambition may be to run the world’s most successful chain of organic juice bar concessions. Irrelevant unfortunately. The writing will still need to be done; otherwise a big plug of ideas will build up and make it feel like your head has constipation.
To me, writers’ block is not a problem, it’s a solution. That solution normally comes in the form of a good bottle of red wine. It’s the only thing which will block the constant blizzard of stuff that sleets through my skull twenty four seven. The only thing which will get my brain to shut up for half an hour so I can watch a bit of telly in peace.
One final question. When was the last time you read an article in a newspaper and thought: “That was original and insightful. More, give me more!” or watched a soap and been genuinely amazed at what just happened because you really didn’t see it coming? Exactly.
Most of everything you have seen or read is shamelessly plagiarised – sorry, thoroughly researched. Which is why natural born writing is such a cruel malady to be struck with. All those ideas which come uninvited into your head are plagiarised too, just not consciously.
They’re all things you’ve heard or seen or read, filtered and digested over time and then regurgitated by your pesky Unquiet Brain. Which is why I think, if you want to put food on the table by putting words onto paper, it’s best to have no natural talent for it. Fortunately or unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, this seems to be how the world works anyway.
Tags: Authors, Burgers, doctors, Dramatic Arc, George Bernard Shaw, Hamsters, Insight, Juice Bars, Latin, Plagiarism, Red Wine, Shavian, Shavian Paradox, Suspension of Disbelief, Television, Unquiet Brain, W H Smiths, Wordsmith, Writers
About thedailygrimeAt that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.
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