AM I A WRITER? And Why The Answer Should Be No If You Want To Have A Quiet Life
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.
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.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013
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.
All I’ve got is this pen
Most recent rants from the Frank Zappa of writing
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Hurdles – How Martial Arts Have Taught Me Persistence Pays And Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
- I’m With Stupid – Who’s More Annoying, Clever People Or Stupid People?
- Exploring Your Inner Shelf – Why Every Straight Man Harbours A Secret Gay Refugee And How To Harness His Awesome Secret Powers
- There Can Be Only One – Soulmates, Dragons And Unicorn Sandwiches
- I Come From A Little Town You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – How My Only Meaningful Dream Is Actually Just One Big Joke
- Don't discover your #SpiritAnimal. CHOOSE your spirit animal. Choose the Honey Badger! #Tenacity #Determination thedailygrime.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/the… 1 week ago
- THE best #HammerHouseOfHorror ever made. #RudeAwakening dailymotion.com/video/x3gi8ud_… 2 weeks ago
- Nanas, Wrestling, Handguns and Drinking Bleach #1970s #1980s thedailygrime.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/bla… 2 weeks ago
- #TomLehrer comments on current world events. From 1967. #DonaldTrump #KimJongUn youtube.com/watch?v=TIoBro… 2 weeks ago
- From #KennyEverett's World's Worst Record Show. Check out the...erm..."trumpet solo" youtube.com/watch?v=9EEZAi… 2 weeks ago
Browse the Archives
- April 2017 (2)
- March 2017 (1)
- February 2017 (1)
- January 2017 (5)
- December 2016 (1)
- November 2016 (4)
- October 2016 (3)
- September 2016 (4)
- August 2016 (2)
- July 2016 (2)
- April 2016 (1)
- March 2016 (2)
- February 2016 (2)
- January 2016 (2)
- December 2015 (1)
- November 2015 (4)
- October 2015 (7)
- September 2015 (7)
- August 2015 (14)
- July 2015 (20)
- June 2015 (10)
- April 2015 (3)
- March 2015 (2)
- January 2015 (6)
- November 2014 (2)
- October 2014 (1)
- September 2014 (4)
- August 2014 (4)
- July 2014 (6)
- June 2014 (5)
- May 2014 (10)
- April 2014 (12)
- March 2014 (14)
- February 2014 (17)
- January 2014 (20)
- December 2013 (10)
- November 2013 (7)
- October 2013 (5)
- September 2013 (2)
- August 2013 (5)
- July 2013 (5)
- June 2013 (3)
- May 2013 (9)
- April 2013 (12)
- March 2013 (7)
- February 2013 (2)
- January 2013 (1)
- October 2011 (1)