A future in writing? – 2.0

I want to write. I’ve realized this.

And yes, I write here, but it is a different kind of writing. It is a blog with a confessional, personal purpose; not purely, but mostly. A way of understanding myself and my own life, first and foremost. People make a living from these kind of things nowadays, I know, but I would be lucky if my blog ever reaches such a state. After all, it isn’t one of a kind on the World Wide Web.

When I think of writing in more traditional terms and what I’ve produced in this spectrum, however, I fall miserably short. Besides my academic work and the frivolous fan fiction writings I’ve dabbled with throughout the years, I have not really produced anything of substance. Especially of late.

Where has the passionate, industrious writer I used to be as a kid gone?

I used to write tons and tons of pages and stories, poems and essays! True, I rarely managed to finish any of them, but I had so many ideas and so much motivation to get started and frequently picked them up after school. It was my thing, my hobby for a great number of years. As the years went on, though, this tendency became less frequent. School work took over and exhausted any effort I had to produce new stuff in my sparetime. Of course, I aced all creative school work. It wasn’t that hard, really, and I got a pretty big ego from it. I practically thought myself a wonder kid in the art of writing – literally because there happened to be no other competition from my classmates and all teachers praised my stuff rather than really critique it.

In recent years, I completely abandoned the old stories and genres and started writing new stuff; I started running various blogs that were of a more observant, analytical nature and less of the fictive kind. I briefly joined a creative writing’s class where I was properly brought down from my high horse. It helped me realize that I was not as unique and talented as I had grown up to think. I suddenly had to work hard at producing something of value! *scoffs* How pathetic I suddenly saw myself as a kid. But I guess that’s just a part of growing up, learning and developing. Without such epiphanies I would probably still think I was God’s gift to mankind.

But I still envy the kid I was. When I had the passion, inspiration and motivation to just write – anything – all the time!

Now it partly feels like the air has gone out of the balloon in that department. I still dabble with an unfinished short story every now and then, and I write prose and poetry on my other blog, but they are not meant for publication or wider acknowledgement or anything like that. It is still too sensitive and personal to let my name become a part of it. I prefer to stay anonymous. Actually, even if I ever was as lucky as to get published and acknowledged for my work, I would still very much like to stay anonymous and out of the limelight. That’s not an easy feat once you’ve gone down the road of ‘fame’.

I’m reluctant to explain and analyze my work; why I write as I write. I just do. I use it to vent and understand. Maybe I’m reluctant to face my own work in the end (cf. the sensitivity of the matter) and get more harsh critique from professional critics. To have the value of it and what I feel to be true questioned and made an example out of. It’s a part of being a writer, I know; exposing oneself and have the courage to face opposition, but it’s not something I have the guts to lay my actual name to yet. I want my writings to be faceless exactly in order for everyone to put their own face on it, so to speak. To make the resonance ring more true.

Thus I’m reluctant to ever get published. I value my privacy too much, I guess. It’s cowardly and I have to face this particular cowardice if I plan to ever get anything out there, I know. But so far, I’m still ‘in developement’ in that department. Maybe nothing will come out in my lifetime (or ever), but I will not quit writing. And that must be the most important notion, after all.

A favorite author of mine, the always so astute George Orwell, once wrote on the act of writing:

“[…] I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in — at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own — but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time.

[…] When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

It is not easy. It raises problems of construction and of language, and it raises in a new way the problem of truthfulness.

[…] All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”

George Orwell, Why I Write, 1946


I think I will take George’s observations to heart and use them as a guideline in future comings. Whatever they may be.


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