Except for a guest post I did once upon a time, this is my first post on Novel Spaces. (I almost put in the link until I realized I was on the page I’d link to.) I want to begin by thanking everyone here at the “Spaces” for inviting me to be a part of this august group. I won’t suggest that I’m going to add any great insights that others here haven’t had, or won’t have themselves, but I hope to do my part. I’ll pull my weight or haul my freight.
So, what to talk about in post number 1? How about: “what writing isn’t, and what writing is?” Here’s some of my thoughts on those subjects.
1. Writing isn’t magic. Most people have the language skills to do it. It doesn’t require some secret talent that only the lucky few are born with. It’s not a gift from the gods.
2. Writing isn’t easy. It’s not something you can decide to toss off during an occasional afternoon. It takes time and commitment; it takes work. This is why, though many could do it, most don’t.
3. Writing is not a quick way to riches. Stephen King got rich. Anne Rice did. Dan Brown did. You probably won’t. Though if you do, take me with you to the top. I’d like some money, too, and goodness knows I haven’t seen much of it yet.
4. Writing isn’t glamorous. It’s closer to being a farmer than a movie star. It’s closest, perhaps, to being a school teacher or a librarian. (I’ve been all of these except movie star, by the way, but I’m sure my Hollywood breakthrough is coming any day now.) If you’re expecting to become famous and glamorous enough to have the paparazzi stake out your house, well then you certainly have the imagination needed to be a writer. (See my note about my Hollywood breakthrough.)
5 Writing is one of the best ways to amuse yourself. I’m never bored except when I’m at the mercy of someone else, as when I’m trapped in a meeting, for example. Even then I can almost always come up with an amusing story to pass the time. Sometimes it’s about the bored folks sitting around me in the meeting.
6. Writing is habit forming. If I go more than a day or two without writing, I start to feel incomplete. I feel like I’ve forgotten something. I feel like I better get my butt into my chair and do what I’m supposed to do.
7. Writing is important. It’s not the most important job in the world but it has many rolls to play in promoting human welfare. It can educate and entertain. It helps heal emotional wounds and inspires movements toward freedom and justice. Most of all, it helps us recognize our common humanity in the face of an inhuman universe.
Those are some of my opinions. What are yours?