Chris Moore feels me tonight on breathing fire…or at least I’m feeling his fire-breathing ship.
I’ve just read an article that, among other things, compared writing to mathematical genius and Beethoven. It was an essay on all of the crap writing that’s out on the internet, and how disgusted they were with the types of writing that everyone consumes with such vigor and unworthy praise.
And the whole time I was reading the article…it was a blog post, really…I couldn’t help but feel the complete opposite of what it was she (I think it was a she) was saying.
Because I don’t fucking care. Not about writing, obviously I do care about that since we’re here talking about it…I mean about discussing “how much crap” there is on the internet.
I really don’t. That’s why I put the fuck in that sentence up there. I don’t care to participate in any argument whatsoever about what people “should” or “shouldn’t” be reading, or watching, or listening to, or whatever…because the multitude is ALWAYS RIGHT. It’s as useless as telling a mountain that it doesn’t exist. If something has caught fire and holds the attention of the masses, it can literally only do so because it is tapping directly into some deeply rooted and very simple human need/desire. Otherwise, it would be ignored. To tap into that human need/desire is most often NOT sophisticated, and sophistication should never be confused with “difficult.” The simplest things on the planet can be the hardest fucking things to actually do. It can make you crazy. So, just because something is “simple” does not remotely mean that it was “easy.”
Props to anyone who has been able to tap into some “universal” humanity with their art, in whatever form that may be. The only accolade that really, actually, means anything is to find an audience. Period.
I don’t disagree with the post author’s notion that almost everything written on the internet is shit. It is! 90% of EVERYTHING is either shit or mediocre. Good writing is HARD. Excellence is damn near impossible. It is inherent in the definition of those words; the best is better than all the rest.
But, back to what I really wanted to discuss was at the root of this treatise against the explosion of writing on the internet, the reason most people shouldn’t be writing, or even that we shouldn’t be trying to help more writers get good at writing: the idea that good writing is a gift you either have, or you don’t.
It’s bullshit. 100% pure bullshit.
To get good at anything means work. Hard fucking work. That’s it. It is not something you just “have,” or something you’re born with. And, I’m not talking about talent. Talent is a compass, it points us in the right direction, but everything else comes from hard work. Talent helps us find what we love, and love supplies the desire to work hard enough to actually become good at what we love. Talent tells us to choose to be a writer instead of a baseball player when we can write for hours on end, but can’t hit a curveball to save our lives. But, even if I was 6’4″ and *could* hit a curveball, that doesn’t mean I’m born a major leaguer. IT TAKES HARD FUCKING WORK.
Anyone who is willing to put hard work into being a writer deserves to write, and CAN write.
I’m also not talking about genius. Genius is incredibly rare. It’s a fluke. A rewiring of the brain in some special way that allows that person to look at something in an incredibly unique and insightful way. Genius comes along once in a hundred million. Maybe less. Someone should do a study. My point being, if we waited to only read writing from an actual genius, we’d never have enough to read. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A GENIUS TO WRITE SOMETHING AMAZING.
An analogy: I ran a music label for several years. I received a lot of really shitty music from a lot of really, really inexperienced, young, novice musicians. Five years later, some of those musicians have music out in a legitimately major way that sounds AMAZING. Like, I’m blown away at how GOOD they are. It’s not because they “had it” or “didn’t have it”…it’s because they worked through the piles of shittiness, and kept working and working and trying to do better…until they finally did do better.
Anyone who sits and watches other people get recognition and stews about it, or reads other people’s work to then call it shit and use it (at least as a amorphous group, nobody was called out specifically) as an anvil to tell people their writing either makes the cut or doesn’t make the cut is insecure and self-serving. Because it DOESN’T MATTER.
The ONLY thing that matters is writing. If you want to be a writer, that’s all you have to do. Write. Every word you write, no matter how frustrating or shitty, will make you a better writer after it’s written. Share those words with other people, and you speed up the learning curve even more. If you don’t like someone’s writing, DON’T READ IT. If someone wants to call themselves a writer, let them. Who gives a flying fuck? People call themselves names and others names alllll thheeeeee tttimmmeeee…it has nothing to do with my writing and how good it is or isn’t. I call myself a writer. What other people call themselves, or even what other people call me, has nothing to do with what I call myself.
The exception I took to this post, which from my diatribe feels very much like pouring out the kind of energy that I’m disparaging, comes down to the fact that it was offered as truth or advice on what it takes to be a writer. I cringe to think of more impressionable, young writers reading those words and thinking to themselves “what if I just don’t have it?”
Being really, really good at something – being a master at something – comes down to work and dedication. It’s not something you have or don’t. It’s not predetermined, handed down to humanity by the gods of Can and Cannot. It is in MY hands to become the best I can at what I love to do.
And, that’s my point: Listen to your talents, find what you are meant to do, what you love to do, and put in the work. Don’t sweat what other people do or say about you deciding to write, because they have nothing to do with your own road to mastery. Just write.
Or whatever it is that’s your version of “writing.”