Saturday, 26 July 2014

On writing

It's very meta to write about writing instead of, y'know, actually writing. A diversion. Or procrastination. Maybe a meta-procrastination.

It's also pretentious to start a book, a chapter, a story, or even a blog post with "On ...", implying that there will now be authoritative words, only mentioned once before moving on to the next subject for regal analysis.

Again, whatevs. But, while I'm here, "On life" boils down to just "Do the best you can".

Speaking of boiling down, and writing. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." allegedly said Ernest Hemingway. Then again, he also allegedly said "Write drunk, edit sober" but that turned out to be someone else.

Quotations about writing, from proven writers - the people who aren't meta but have actually published books and stuff - are two a penny. After spending far too much time reading these, instead of ... you've guessed it, they seem to boil down to five things:

1. Read a lot. Books, novels, stories, posts, comic books, ephemera, digital game text, anything with words on it. Do this for life; rewire your brain to understand how everything can be conveyed in words.

2. Observe everything. In whatever states of mind and body you need to be in to observe everything. You've signed up to be an anthropologist of the human condition now.

3. Be selfish with your time. Write when you need to. Ignore people who interrupt you. Cut off people who repeatedly interrupt you.

4. Write a lot. Just, write. Figure out what to keep hidden, what to edit, what to delete, and what to make public.

5. Publish. Whatever that means, nowadays. But basically let random strangers discover, and choose to read (or choose to ignore), your writing.

That's pretty much it. Write yourself to contentment, inner peace, to home. Write to set the record straight, make the record or fix the broken record. Write to inform or misinform, to encourage or discourage, to prove or disprove. Write to stop the fragment of history that sits in your soul from slipping into an eternal night. Write yourself to California and Los Angeles, or Lapland and Rovaniemi, or a cornfield in the middle of the midwest. Write so you can buy cheese for yourself, games consoles for your partner, nice meals in revolving restaurants for the two of you and perhaps not-so-nice food at state fairs. Figure out your personal meaning of "home" and write yourself there.

Just write.

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