When he says he is

“A writer is a writer when he says he is,”

…even when he feels he is not,
…even if he thinks no one reads his work,
…even if he has another job,
…even if most of his posts sucks,
…or his books don’t make it to top 10,
….even if he makes nothing from it,
…not even a cent,
…and no one turns up at his table,
…to ask for his autograph,
…well the important thing is,

“A writer is a writer when he says he is.”–Steven Pressfield

To be heard and to be me

The me inside keeps telling me, “I need to be heard because I want to be deemed significant and be accepted as someone, something!” Writing sometimes is a solidified in the realms of solidarity. There is always the desire to see if what you have conjured up in an isolated space becomes something, something significant.

But a writer cannot read the mind of his or her audience unless he or she starts writing and somehow hopes. Hopes that someone, somebody, anybody would resonate with what is written, what has been worked out in isolated spaces of solidarity.

But if the only intention for a writer to write is because he or she wants to be heard, he or she ceases to become who they are supposed to be. In turn they will eventually be what they think what others want them to be.

There is always the tension, played in the mind and desires of every writer to be heard, and be defined also by who they are. How does one juggle between these two tensions and find their definitive voice and personality in what they write and seek to achieve?

Do you struggle with this? Do you want to be heard and at the same time have your own voice?

my emotions telling my brain

All day today, I struggled with an emotion that I did not truly understand. I wrote a poem this morning which conveyed this voice that kept saying “speak another way.” It was an unmistakable ringing that kept going on and on until later it somehow subsided.

I didn’t really pay much attention to it after that. But I think after that and towards around 5-6pm I felt this dark mood penetrating deep in me. I read a post on how poetry was supposed to be written and went to look back at my old stuff I wrote. I wasn’t too happy with how I approached the way I wrote. I somehow lacked the vocabulary and a mind that really knew how to play with imagery or by that metaphors. My style was simple. And it seemed that what it looked like, the stuff I wrote were more like prose, not poetry.

I guess some could be categorized as poetry. Some might fall into the category of prose. I think my style of writing has some sort of philosophical musings infused in them. Well, not that I know anything about philosophy but I love the subject. Anyway, the books I read are theological textbooks. I tried to read novels but I just couldn’t. I think the problem with me when I read novels is, I tend to imagine my own stories after that. Or I try to reflect ideas embedded in the few pages that I read. I think that’s why I read mostly textbooks. I know, I’m sort of a nerd because of that. But I’m trying to start reading poets and books from other accomplished poets.

Anyway somehow I diverted from what I’m supposed to say going the route of what books I read.

So I read through my old poems and other stuff I wrote and got very dissatisfied with how I wrote. I got pretty depressed, so I went out for a walk and grabbed some food for dinner. All the while nursing the depressive state that I was in. I’m glad that there were no cliffs for me to climb and plunge myself to death. Well, not exactly to that point really. My sanity is still very much in tact, thank goodness! I wouldn’t want the headlines in the paper to read, “Wanna be poet (chuckles) plunges to his death.” Now that will not speak anything good about me.

When I got back from my walk and check my blog, R, who blogs at Red Lake Write, wrote a comment that enlightened me to what “speak another way” somewhat meant. I don’t really know how to explain it, it’s like my emotions were way ahead of my brain. And when my brain finally caught up, and just like that, I just understood what it meant.

It’s funny really, my emotions communicating to me feelings that I did not understand at that time. In some mystical way, my brain just caught up only when I read the comment from R. Then everything came full circle. I think I’m somehow gonna try to “speak/write another way” if I can really do that, or was it really telling me to just be myself?

In a world where being original is always the hardest thing to do, or just being yourself for that matter, where do we really draw the line of finding our own voice and constantly improving on how we write?

I Love Writing But…

The keyboard of the Malling-Hansen writing bal...
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Ideally I like to think of myself as a writer because basically I like writing. But liking something does not necessarily justify that I am what I like. Writing requires serious discipline and the need to keep that as a progressive rhythm. one is not a writer by simply having the gift of writing. It requires a lot of time alone, sitting down thinking, writing, editing, discarding, thinking through and all that hard stuff.

I read of people like the novelist Jonathan Franzen who locks himself up for hours, alone and by himself. Being disciplined enough to sit down without the distraction of the internet or anything by that matter. Read about the article about him here on Time. I wish I was that committed in writing but at least I share the same first name as Franzen. (Ironically, Franzen sees his disciplined manner in writing as something as freedom! But you will get the picture when you read the article about what he has to say about that. I guess that would be another idea for a post that i would soon pen for a later date.)

In a post about writing McKnight states that

The Writing Life is about routine, day after day, month after month, year after year, and it takes a decade or more for The Writing Life to make sense and to be natural. If I miss a few days it gets hard to get back into the rhythm, and a week or two away and it takes at least two days to feel comfortable again.

He goes on to note what Harper Lee stated about writing to some students who asked her what is it like to be a writer

To be a serious writer requires discipline that is iron fisted. It’s sitting down and doing it whether you think you have it in you or not. Everyday. Alone. Without interruption. Contrary to what most people think, there is no glamour to writing. In fact, it’s heartbreak most of the time.

Reading through it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the coherence of what these seasoned writers are saying about writing. To write well takes discipline and not of the ordinary kind. Discipline is key in all what the say. Talent is needed but it’s not the whole issue of being a good writer. Again it’s discipline and routine even when we feel not in the mood to write.

Right now I’m feeling like not in the mood to write although I’m writing now as we speak or blog for that matter. At the moment I’m hitting brick walls in writing my assignments which is not a good position to be in. Part of the reason is that I’m a bit disappointed with the grade of one of my subjects that I got recently. Now that’s sort of lame excuse to not write I reckon. But like always it’s a wake up call for me that is if I want to improve at this art. Well at least I don’t have to be ultra talented to be a good writer. It’s a skill one learns by discipline which everyone is not exempted with. One can’t improve on natural talent inherent in them but one can improve on discipline.

In conclusion I’d like to pose this question. Is there any good advice other than the ones mentioned above at improving on writing? What do you do when you hit brick walls and nothing productive comes up in writing? And it would be helpful if one could critique some of my own writing on this blog and the other stuff I wrote. I’d love to hear your views on the questions that I ask here.

(Here’s some good advice that C. S. Lewis gave on writing well.)