In my younger, more vulnerable years, I used to keep a list of all the books I read. I took pride in this, took pride in counting how many books I read in any given year.
I was one of the few who liked to read. It was a secret pleasure of mine, but as soon as I hit the thousand books milestone, it’s lost its charm to me forever.
Maybe I’ve read twice as many books so far, maybe I’m not that good at counting anymore.
In any case, there are billions of words I’ll never get to read. Millions of books, stories, poems, plays, and essays that I’ll never even know about.
I do my best to read two books a week, and if I were to keep this up until I turn 75, I will have read an additional 4, 700 books. Give or take a few, because I’ve stopped being good at math in sixth grade, when I decided that all I wanted out of life was to write stories.
Maybe it sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It really isn’t.
J.D. Salinger once wrote, “Do you know what I was smiling at? You wrote down that you were a writer by profession. It sounded to me like the loveliest euphemism I had ever heard. When was writing ever your profession? It’s never been anything but your religion. Never. I’m a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won’t be asked. You won’t be asked if you were working on a wonderful, moving piece of writing when you died. You won’t be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won’t be asked if you were in good or bad form while you were working on it. You won’t even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished.
I’m so sure you’ll get asked only two questions:
“Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out?”
If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined.”
Overall, I believe this is some of the best writing advice ever written. But I’d like to analyze the hell out of this paragraph, and tell you what I think about writing being either a profession or a religion.
First of all, writing is both at the same time. It has to be, if one wishes to be productive.
After all, my writing mantra has been, “Punch the damn keys.”
I say nothing about being inspired, having the time, or the planets being aligned in just the right way. I say nothing about other commitments, or chores, or the fact that you have to go grocery shopping.
I say, punch the damn keys, because, ultimately, that’s what makes you a writer. It’s as simple as that.
I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honor, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. I don’t make too much of this sort of honor. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.
There’s a part of me that believes art to be a primordial aspect of the human condition. Art inspires, art is a way of achieving greatness, of building a better world. Art turns strangers into friends. Without art, without artists, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.
Because I feel that within the confines of any artistic form of expression, we allow ourselves to wear a mask. The artist hides behind words or paints or brushes. And he feels safe. He can be anyone he wants to be. His freedom is limitless. And he plays this bizarre game of hide and seek with the rest of the world, constantly changing the rules, until he decides – maybe on a mere subconscious level – to be himself, thinking that people will never find out.
From Game of Thrones to the trend of vampire novels, post-apocaliptic stories, hard sci-fi, cyberpunk, steampunk and all other genres, we’ve fast become addicted to science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Why such a departure from what “normal” looks like?
Maybe because normal kinda sucks?
Maybe because almost every specie on this planet dreams for the purpose of avoiding reality? Of filtering the stress dealt to its central nervous system during the day?
Art isn’t something to be discussed in a few lines, so I feel like I didn’t make it any justice. The reason I believe so, is because the other day I only managed to establish one of the rules, today I feel like covering another aspect.
We are surrounded by many forms of art ; movies, music, poetry, novels, paintings, whatever floats your boat. Everyone is free to embrace it as they wish but things aren’t going exactly like they used to and I am aware that sounds like a cliche. Unfortunately, it’s true.
“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Sometimes, when I’m alone, I ask myself all sorts of questions. Am I building something now? Am I the person I’ve always wanted to be? If not, am I becoming that person or did I get lost on the way? Are my dreams coming true? You know, the type of questions one does not like to ask. But I keep asking them, I keep trying to find answers.
I’d like to believe that my stories are going to last for a long, long time. Maybe for as long as the human race itself. But what can you do about this? How can you build a legacy? How can you make sure that people will remember you? Continue reading “The Goal”→
“We’re all searching for something in our art. There are questions, and we always feel close to finding the answers, but we never do.
Artists never create art for what they might find. Some want to free themselves from nightmares, others want to inspire, or raise questions, or make people understand the world around them. Some want to entertain, others want to get rich, but it seems to me that no matter our reason for choosing to become artists, we all find more happiness in the stories or paintings or songs we create than we find in the real world. This is the sad truth: artists choose to live with one eye always closed to the world, the here and the now, and use that awareness to see what others can’t.
Inside the artist’s soul there is always a part that feels no remorse or fear when it comes to all that is dark in human nature. It seems to me that a part of the artist’s soul gets damaged to such an extent that it grows impervious to pain, heat, or cold. Like a scar.” Continue reading “Metafiction”→