There will be bad language. Emotive subject.
When I’m trying to find interesting pieces to read, I’ll search through WordPress’s categories and tags. Often, I find some very inspiring, well-written and enjoyable posts. But yesterday, I read something that made me want to throw my dog through the computer screen. And I don’t even own a dog.
Writing is a beautiful thing and should be encouraged. You might hate E.L. James, but at least she thought ‘Hang on, I have an urge to write a Twilight-inspired trilogy about bondage and asshole fingering,’ and she did it. So when you see the sunburnt Brits, sitting around a pool at the all-inclusive in Tenerife, thumbing through their dog-eared copies of Fifty Shades, this is a good thing. Why? Because people are reading. And reading is good. Unless it’s the Daily Mail, of course.
It irks me when I stumble across articles discouraging people from writing, which is what I found yesterday. I then delved a little deeper and was saddened to find these articles are quite common.
So here’s my response to some of them.
I am not in the process of naming and shaming. That crap is for the tabloids. I will, however, quote from the articles.
“Writing a novel is really, really difficult and you shouldn’t do it. Even now, you’ve read that sentence, which I’m sure you’ve heard before, and you’re thinking you know it’s hard, but you can do it. You don’t get it: it’s REALLY, REALLY difficult.”
Oh really? I thought writing that 80k word tome would be a doddle. You mean to tell me it’s going to take effort? Heaven forbid! Where’s my butler? Jeeves! Cut these sprouts right now. I can’t do it on my own.
“A book will not give you direction in life. A book is something you write in order to get you to where you’re going. If you have nowhere to go, a book will insure that you stay where you are: Lost.”
This is absolute fucking bullshit. Also, it doesn’t make sense. Writing is an introspective art. You learn so much about yourself when you do it. I often write a post, unsure of my opinion on the subject matter (not this one, btw!), and by the end of the post I am clear about how I feel. Ordering words gives form to your thoughts. I genuinely believe that the mental wellbeing of many people would of higher quality if art was encouraged more. Brains are weird, fucked up things. Let’s use ‘em. And it should be ‘ensure’, not ‘insure.’ You fucking idiot.
“There are too many novels and too many people writing them. Not only do those already written continue to exist and demand to be eternally read, but thousands more entirely new novels keep appearing in publishers’ catalogs and in bookshops around the world; then there are the many thousands rejected by publishers that never reach the bookshops, but which nonetheless exist. It is, then, a commonplace activity, one that is, in theory, within the grasp of anyone who learned to write at school, and for which no higher education or special training is required.”
Fine. You’ve got me. I am going to quit writing my novel because some other people wrote some books once and ‘no higher education or special training is required.’ I feel a little sorry for the ‘author’ in this case. He or she has clearly given up on life. I used to have a friend like that. He said ‘There’s no point having an idea because someone, somewhere has already thought of it.’ He’s single, bitter, drinks too much booze, smokes too much weed, has questionable personal hygiene, lives with a lot of cats and hasn’t been laid in a long time. We are no longer friends, although I am sure that is the least of his concerns. If anyone wants a hook-up from that dating profile, I think I still have his number somewhere.
“Most people cannot write well. This is a fact. This is something that is true. This is a hard thing to accept. Most people cannot write well, and that includes you, and what we can conclude from this is the person we are talking about here who cannot write well is, in all likelihood, you.”
You know who ‘cannot write well’? You, motherfucker. ‘This is a fact. This is something that is true.’ Oh really? Is that what a ‘fact’ is? Thanks for clarifying, you utter dick. But perhaps I shouldn’t judge whether they can write well; I kick off far too many sentences with the word ‘and’.
And anyway, I could go on, but I will – I must – end it there. I’m just getting plain irritated now. Unconstructive.
My point is: If you want to write, then write.
You’ll find most of the people who penned the above nuggets of stupidity have had their dreams shattered. I can understand it. Like people who’ve had a bad breakup don’t want anyone else to fall in love. But really, it’s just themselves that they harm. What are you gaining by discouraging a bunch of people from writing?
It seems like a passive form of bullying, and for someone who dealt with enough of that shit at school, I will not take it as an adult.
You had a bad time writing your novel? Boo hoo. Get over it. Write another one or shut the fuck up.
Of course it’s hard and of course it’s lonely, but the rewards far outweigh the negative aspects.
The world is full of people telling you that you can’t do things. It doesn’t need more.
These days, when someone says ‘You can’t do that,’ my response tends to be ‘Fuck you, watch me.’
I went to a talk on music a year or so back, from seminal composer David Arnold. He wrote the scores to Independence Day, Stargate and Casino Royale (amongst others). Really lovely, humble, inspiring chap. Also, great beard. He said the best advice he ever received was from Billy Bragg. ‘Once you realise you’re not going to play Wembley Stadium, everything becomes far easier,’ Bragg said.
Or course, David Arnold he did play Wembley a few years later in some sort of Bond music night. So might you.