Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

DON’T READ THIS!

In the Margaret Atwood story “Bad News” the narrator says that newspapers use photographs to compel us to look, whether we want to or not. The implication is: no picture, no one reads it.

Do you agree? If you’ve read this far, chances are you are the type that is compelled to look and read because of a title. It’s okay. Let’s just admit that we do choose books by their covers, stories by their first lines, essays by their titles and blogs by the catchy names of their authors. I mean, who can resist taking a look at what “Caffeinated Librarian” has to say?

I don’t have a fancy blog name, so let’s assume no curious readers pass this way. “Who are you writing that for?” asks my twelve year old when she sees I’m at my blog again. “Do you think anyone is going to read it?” Um… well… yes… perhaps… not, but… Before I finish fumbling up an answer she has left the room, leaving me to face the ugly question at the heart of a writer’s raison d’être: would you write this knowing full well no one were to read it?

I know most of my writer friends would say “Yes, of course we would!” but I wonder. When I look at their web pages I see catalogue lists of publications. Like mine in this right hand column. Why did I put that there? We writers have a constant need, it seems, to reaffirm our writerly worth by listing our books. There’s snobbery in this practice too. It matters not just what we have published, but where we have published. But friends, let’s admit it, getting our work into books doesn’t guarantee its being read. And unless there’s an attractive cover (c.f. Poem, Revisednow that cover makes us want to take a look inside) or a brilliant title (among mine none are brilliant, however the curiously ungrammatical “Missing You More Strongly” might make us want to flip to it), chances are it lies somewhere published and still unread.

Does my claim offend you? Good. Today’s lesson is in futility. You see, once you believe in the futility of writing you can abandon yourself to loving it, revelling in it, maybe doing it at all. I was in a fiction workshop once where the leader asked, “What would you write if you could write anything, free from the opinions and censorship of others? In other words, what would you write, but feel you can’t write, because others will read it…?”

The first one up in the air with her plump little arm answered, “A day in the life of Jesus, the way he’d really want us to live!” Huh? We others aligned in silent agreement that she had not quite gotten the question. The next woman took a few hard swallows before she said, “The story of my mother shooting my sister’s boyfriend.” That one we got.

You see, when we write with half a mind on our readers, meaning half a mind on our publishers, or potential publishers and editors, not to mention the potential readers we would wish to eliminate, like our mother, the antagonist of our story, we don’t get close enough to those things we would write if there were no hindrances.

Believe me, I know. I’ve been thinking of you, my reader, through every sentence I just wrote, hoping I’ve pleased you, made you smile or laugh, made you think, inspired you… made you want to get up from that chair in front of your computer, pick up your tea cup now half full of lukewarm swill, and march uncensored into the rest of your day, writing your own story with abandon… hoping, in the very least, that you read this to its profound end. Did you? Is it ok? Did you like? Anything you think was dumb and I should drop? Do you think it’s worth publishing? Oh?

2 comments on “DON’T READ THIS!

  1. randi
    18/02/2012

    I really like this.

  2. 🙂 thanks

Comments are closed.

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This entry was posted on 05/08/2007 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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Rasma Says

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