Why we write.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

I think when one first begins the endeavor to become a writer, there is a sense of wonderment, and often a mysteriousness to it. Certainly, there are misconceptions about writing that can only be overcome through experience. Many people writing is simply putting down words to tell a story. This is essentially true, but the execution of such an act, therein lies the difficulty.

Writing is an art, just as painting, music, or dance is an art. As such, it is almost entirely subjective. Writing, specifically creative writing, is a difficult subject to teach. One can be taught the basics of painting. Using certain brush strokes to imitate texture, using two point perspective to emulate depth, or how to properly add shading to objects to simulate volume. These are techniques. Technique can be learned and improved upon.

But, all students who learn how to paint will not become the next DaVinci, Van Gogh, or Monet. In fact, probably none of them will.

Then, there are those who, without foreknowledge, pick up a brush, and despite their complete ignorance of technique, create a beautiful work of art, rough and raw, but art. This is talent. Talent is already there, but it must be honed and focused.

So, you have technique, and you have talent. Most of us will be a combination of these, some with great technique, but not great talent. Or, the inverse.

My point is that anyone can be taught the basics of fiction writing. But, one cannot be taught how to employ them to the best effect, nor teach one to develop one’s own style. We can be lead by those who would teach us, but we must discover on our own where our abilities lie. Those with great technique but little talent can still become accomplished writers, but perhaps not in fiction. Those with great talent, but lack the knowledge of proper technique, will often struggle on in the dark, creating mesmerizing pieces of art that does not appeal to the general masses. Only those with a modicum of both will succeed in an industry that few have conquered.

I do not say this to discourage anyone, most of all myself, but to pull the clouded mystery away from the idea of writing, to bring it back down into the realm of the real. It is art. Nothing more, or less. Work at it as you would a sketch. Practice your art. Learn the techniques and hone your talent. It is there. But do not fool yourself into thinking that fame lies in wait. The only reward you will find, and indeed the only one worth finding, is the satisfaction you will feel when you’ve created something you are proud of, and the smiles (or grimaces) of those to whom you share your art with.

That is why we write.


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