Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Miscellany--Some Questions About Writing

One thing about being a writer is that you think about words . . .  a lot. You think about what they mean and how they impact you and others. And then there are questions about if the words you choose will convey what you want or if they will have meaning beyond the time you write in.

I loved the post about on Tossing it Out earlier this month. Arlee Bird posed the questions,
"Is your writing mostly in vain? Would you rather make a good living at what you do now and be consigned to the back pages of history?  Or would you prefer the status of struggling artist who gains fame after you are dead and gone?"

In my mind, no writing's in vain, even when you write in a journal or a diary with no thought of sharing with anyone. What you set onto a page is unique and, therefore, worthwhile. It's yours and no one else will express the ideas the way you do.  Unless you "copy, word for word" from another writer, an idea that's similar will be developed differently. Balzac encouraged others to take his ideas and use them. It was his opinion that if writers used his work and incorporated it into their own, he would have another shot at immortality. Now that's an interesting take on things, and it might bear examination, especially when the accusations of plagiarism come up.

As to the choice of making a living now or being forgotten I don't think we have much to say about that. We can write for popular consumption today, and what we write will remain the same while the culture and the readers will evolved into something we may never imagine.

I wonder if Shakespeare considered the long journey his plays and sonnets would make as he wrote them. I believe he would would be surprised at his current status in the world. Elated, yes. But definitely surprised. But let's face it, he had a way of weaving words together that, even though archaic now and somewhat challenging to understand, pulls at our hearts and makes us flock to those Shakespeare in the Park productions each summer. If we learn anything from his example it is to examine that prose of ours and consider the way it sounds as well as what it conveys. Oh yes, and then there's the matter of all those universal themes that he wrote about that still tug at our hearts.

So write, write, write and enjoy the act. If you're lucky, if you're skilled/talented, if the timing is right you'll sell your book to readers. If your stars really line up, in a few hundred years you could be a best selling author. Only time will tell. (Oops! Cliche alert.)

Now I'm off to write something. Hope you'll jump in and add your ideas about Arlee's questions. Coming this December I'll be joining Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Blog Hop. If you want to come on board, just sign up and post about all your insecurity the first Wednesday of each month. See you there, I hope.


  1. Interesting question. Of course I'd like to get a book published, but if I don't I've told a story (or two or three) that I needed to tell. I've also written a few songs that I think are better than many I hear on the radio and some terribly poetry. Will they make me famous after I'm dead and gone? I won't know so I don't care. :)

  2. I agree. I'd rather find my readers now, while I'm alive enough to enjoy them! Still, I do hope to leave my writing to my children so it can help support them. If I'm not remembered in 100 years, that's not a problem. Any affect I have today will ripple into tomorrow, whether I'm remembered or not.

  3. Sometimes I get so caught up in being productive, sending my stuff out, researching markets that I lose sight of the reason for it all - my love for the craft. Last night I sat down and journaled. As I wrote for myself, without a thought to a possible audience, it restored the joy that had slipped away. So I'm with you, no writing is in vain.

  4. Every time I pose this question, authors answer it the same way: they'd all rather be successful now, even if they're forgotten before long, than struggle in obscurity now and be famous for years afterward.

    I do think it's sad when I look back at people who were bestsellers or feted as quality artists in their own time and whose work nobody reads anymore. But then, they did influence the writers of their time, and so contributed to the ongoing chain of literature, even indirectly.

  5. Given that I will never know how my work is regarded post-kicking-the-bucket, I'd like to share it now. ;) It's interesting to think about, though!

  6. I agree no writing is in vain. I enjoy writing. Of course I really, really want a book published now or later, but I truly enjoy the creation of it.
    Good question!

  7. I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy eating, so here's to finding that audience before I starve to death.

  8. I don't think most "real" writers are in it for lasting fame. Of course we all want to be published and have people love our books. But I'd write no matter what.

  9. I hope I’m not offensive if I say I don’t want fame, period. But if fame is in the cards for me, let it be after I’m no longer here. The idea of being recognized stopped for autographs, whatever- not my thing.
    Writing definitely is. Seeking publication is what I do to justify the time and effort I dedicate to writing.
    Oh, and I would love to be paid. This^ all points to a ‘work-for-hire’ model: income but little or no recognition. But there I wouldn’t write what I want to write.
    Great post for writers.

  10. I agree that no writing is in vain. So true. That's quite a question to ponder. Hmm, I'd have to agree that now is more important. It's the highlight of being a writer to get to interact with our readers. Especially as a children's writer, well, seeing those bright smiling faces when I do a school visit is so rewarding and means a lot to me.

    I think Shakespeare would be surprised to know what an impact his writing has had on the world. He was probably too busy writing when he was alive to give much thought to whether he would become a legend centuries after he died.

  11. Great post - and I'm with you. I don't think any writing is ever done in vain. If you enjoy doing it, then it can't be wasted!

  12. I'd like to make a living now. Sure it's great to hope that one day long after I'm gone people will still know my name, but if they aren't that's fine with me. I'd rather people know me while I'm here.

  13. I'm flattered that you took my topic and took it to the next level. Excellent post and some really great comments in response to it.

    Writing is a serendipitous gift that some have and some develop. There's no absolute formula that always works. If there were then there'd be good writers everywhere and I guess good writers would be at a par with fast food workers and they'd all get by at minimum wage with no fame or glory for the future.

    Writing should be special to the individual who writes and beyond that there are no guarantees.

    Just write and whatever happens, happens.

    Nicole from Madlab Post offers blogging tips at
    Tossing It Out

  14. Hi Clee!

    A great post!

    Congratulations! You won the Christina Hollis giveaway on my blog!


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