An Articulation of Why
I have recently been thinking about the importance of articulating the why, based on a recent episode of the Pen Addict, which pointed me to a video by Craig Benzine of Wheezy Waiter fame, as well as a number of recent conversations with trusted friends. I am not going through some sort of creative crisis of faith, as many are want to suffer just before drafting pieces such as this, but I started this website, and this whole project or embracing my creative side, with no definitive articulation of why.
Being a rather introspective creature, my why is not unbeknownst to me. Initially, I was worried that I would ask the question and find only the superficial goals of “making people's lives better” or some kind of “fame and renown.” Those things might be nice, or might be nightmares, but I was relieved to find, that upon asking the question, the answer came rather simply. All that I needed now, was to articulate.
There is a preponderant amount of writing on the internet, an overwhelming number of self-published poets, and blogs whose contents could rival the collection of some libraries. What forms does writing take in the internet age? Let me count the ways. Without going as far as to call images a form of writing, (though some on Instagram may protest) the smallest means of expressing your thoughts via written language is the tweet, of 144 characters or less, and yet, which some find a perfectly suitable outlet for their creativity. For the slightly more wordy, we move up to the Facebook post and further still to the Tumblr “blog.” Purportedly at some point, the writer may be cramped with the limitations of these spaces, as I once felt cramped, and move up to running a free blog, or even hosting an entire site. For the more prolific, or those who simply want to call themselves “published,” ahead on the journey lies self-publishing through some online service or small publishing house. For the terribly lucky, or terribly gifted, or terribly hard-working, whichever you are apt to view the world as, some will get plucked along the way from on high and declared “good enough” and have their work published by one of the major publishing houses, and they may call themselves a well and truly published author.
Finding myself amidst endless metaphorical stacks of “internet writing” and literally in the middle of the above paragraph, my inclination is towards one question only. “Is any of this any good?” Ponders mumbles, puffing on a pipe, and pulling up a couple of sheets from the stack he is is sitting upon, presumably a stack of blog posts concerning an individual's life changing experience visiting a low income community in the south of Latvia. “Why yes, Mr. Ponders, amidst all of this there is some writing that is actually quite good. But the problem is finding it. Have you tried that stack over there?”
“That stack is all just listicles, fluffed up with the inclusion of a vaguely related GIF after each point.”
“And what of that stack over there?”
“I can’t even get past the titles on those. Clickbait, all of them. The few I do manage to read tend not to even deal with the subject suggested by the title.”
“Yes. Well I can see how one might easily lose hope here.”
Excuse the vignette.
I guess this is all to say this. There was a time, in which there was a lot of really good writing. Really any time after the dawn of the public intellectual (whenever you want to date that) and the 1950’s, but I’m thinking particularly of the greats like Hemingway, Heidegger, Steinbeck, Weil, Faulkner, Stein, (both of them) Joyce, Wharton, Christie, Wells, Orwell, Lewis, Tolkien, and my personal favorite, Fitzgerald. Many people have explained to me that every generation has its greats, and they are often not found until after their time, and there is some credence to that idea. But looking at newspaper articles, pulp fiction, the lowest forms of the written literature, many of them possess a much higher level of proficiency in the art of writing than some of the works that find their way to the top of our best selling lists.
I am not asking for the world of writing the change. In the age where we all have a spotlight, I imagine much of this is fairly irreversible. And I’m sure you’ve all forgotten that this is not a piece on the state of writing today. Rather this is an articulation of why, that simply required you the reader to understand how I feel about the world that I am writing in.
Why I have created this site, why I am doing any of this, is because I want to be a writer. But more than just being a writer, and spewing my writing forth into the void and hoping someone finds it please, I would really like to be a good writer. I can only hope that someday I may be counted among those listed above, but I can only think of one way to even begin to move in that direction, and that is to keep writing, always with a critical eye towards my own work, and always with a watchful eye along the horizon for those who may be ahead of me on this journey, or may be joining along side me.