Monday, May 16, 2011

What Writing Is

I thought it would be a good idea to give you a run-down of just what I believe writing is, and what it is not. I've been in this game for a while now (not as long as some, but long enough to have formed opinions about it that may be of help to people). I've published magazine and newspaper articles and written some un-published manuscripts, so I'm no guru. That being said, I hope both newbies and seasoned vets alike can get something of value out of my experiences. So, without further ado, here are 25 things your writing won't achieve, and ten things it might:

Things Your Writing Will Not Do:

1.) Your writing will not save the world

2.) Your writing will not make you rich (probably)

3.) Your writing will not save anyone's life

4.) Your writing, on its own, will not start a revolution

5.) Your writing will most likely not make your children proud of you

6.) Your writing will not save your marriage

7.) Writing well will not make people who crapped on you in high school envious of you

8.) Your writing will not make your parents proud of you (unless you become a millionaire; see number 2 above)

9.) Writing well will not humble your ex-girlfriends--they'll still be glad they broke up with you

10.) Your writing will not make you popular

11.) Your writing will not pay your bills (probably)

12.) Your writing will not make you as famous as Kim Kardashian (maybe Khloe though)

13.) Your writing, no matter how persuasive, will not stop global warming

14.) Your writing, no matter how persuasive, will not make the upstairs neighbor stop blasting Creed until 4 A.M. every night

15.) Your writing will never fully capture the beauty of nature

16.) Your writing will not make you parent of the year

17.) Your writing will not bring you more in tune with humanity

18.) Your writing will not make it so you're recognized when you pop into Starbucks for a grande iced half caf quadruple mocha latte macchiato

19.) Your writing will not make anyone want to be your friend

20.) Writing well, on its own, will not guarantee you a fulfilled life

21.) Your writing will not make anyone fall in love with you

22.) No one will build a huge sculpture of you when you die just because you were a good writer

23.) You will not be buried in an ornate mausoleum when you die just because you were a good writer (don't believe me? check out Kafka's grave).

24.) Chances are, your writing will go out of print within your own lifetime (unless you self-publish, of course)

25.) No one can marvel at your progress as a writer until you're in print--so if you're someone who needs constant praise and encouragement, you should become a figure skater

Things Your Writing Might Do:

1.) Writing that perfect line will make you happy for exactly one hour

2.) Writing often will ensure that your golf game sucks

3.) Writing often will leave less time for you to pick up hobbies like playing the harmonica (this is a good thing for those of us with eardrums)

4.) Writing something clever will secure you the esteem of your boss for precisely ten minutes

5.) Writing jokes well can make you rich, if you're into that

6.) Writing often will ensure that you will be seen by most people as a hermit

7.) Being a writer will guarantee that at least one person in the world, upon hearing the news that you're a writer, will say in a bored tone of voice, "Well, at least he's doing what he loves."

8.) Writing a lot will lessen the odds that you're shot by a sniper

9.) Writing often may help fight the causes of dementia (but I'm no doctor)

10.) Your writing has an outside shot at elevating a moment of everyday life into something unique

And it is for this last reason that I write. That one chance in a thousand that if you work hard enough, if you put in enough hours writing, you'll create art that endures. To me, this makes everything in the first list above irrelevant. But it's a good idea to know what you're up against from the start (or to be reminded of what you're up against if you're in the thick of writing). I hope these lists didn't discourage anyone from writing, because like I said before, it's the greatest job in the world. But you need to take it seriously and stay humble.

Now go write!

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