Over 80% of people think they have a book in them (not literally, of course). An idea that will, one day, manifest into words, pages/bytes, a coherent and cohesive experience. Your house-sitter, manicurist, and that curmudgeon of a neighbor, wait patiently for retirement/the kids to go to college/the family dog to learn Mandarin before starting on the wondrous journey.
Those of us already writing know most of that 80% will never type a word. Some will begin and end with chapter one, realizing actually writing is different than the daydreams over coffee. Others will stop when they search for their muses, trying in vain to reach them while those traitorous wisps cavort on beaches with sexier writers than them.
Then, there are the few who find the linguistic fire late in life, buried under thoughts of propriety or of writing as frivolous.
It is good for the rest of us that the vast majority will never write a book (competition is already fierce) but it's slightly problematic, too. With so many people believing they'll just "jot down" a novel when they have "a free month or so", it lends false credibility to the illusion the writing life is easy or unimportant because almost everyone feels they can accomplish it. All it takes is some leisure time and a good idea, right?
So... tell the people who tell you they'll write "when they have time" to start today. You write when you have other things to do, all writers do. You could ignite their desire for words or, at least, help them see what it's really like after they set fire to the page (maybe, this time, literally).
Do people in your life say they'll write "someday"? What do you tell them?
To be honest, not many people in my immediate surroundings do. I have encountered a few people who thought writing was easy, they quickly changed their minds once they tried blogging, or actually putting things down on paper. A book is a lot work, not just some me-time with coffee, a writing device and a room with a view.ReplyDelete
Writing is an urge, you can't put it off to a convenient time if you are meant for it. It will rather take you by the nose and demand you stick that into your device at the most inopportune of times, and you will know there are a thousand other things that need your attention, but still helplessly give in.
You're right. It is something real writers don't deny themselves... because they can't.Delete
Maybe different cultures view art and writing differently than Americans do. It is something I've wondered about but haven't studied.
It frustrates me that even most fiction writers won't take poetry seriously. It is seen as a mere hobby or writing exercise to prepare for the "real work".
Poetry is a niche market. That is undeniable. Couple it with the fact that a poet must be social media savvy and great at self-promotion, and it is not a recipe leading to megabucks. And money is the measure of success for most people. How many people, and I am talking about the reading public, actually buy a book of poetry beyond school? It's something you read for free on the net in a coffee break. Can you think of a JK Rowling type rags-to-riches counterpart for poetry? QED :)Delete
If I wanted money, I sure picked a losing horse writing poetry and flash fiction. My cousin is a promising visual artist and I'm afraid he won't think his art is valuable. We create because we love it, we can't stop, but it's work.Delete
I tend to meet people who are SURE their life stories would make great books. Few life stories would. But if people want to put them on paper and upload them to Amazon so that their kids will have something to remember them by, why not? I know I would love to be able to download a book my grandmother or great-grandmother wrote about their lives. Maybe our ancestors will feel the same way.ReplyDelete
Family history and family biographies are something more people should have. There is a wealth of information from our older generations younger ones roll their eyes at... until they grow. In my mother's family, it seems there is one person who pays attention and remembers, like a historian.Delete
Libraries are starting to record oral histories of older or interesting residents so the next generation has the knowledge.
I'm not sure most of my neighbors even read. But I do run into people from time to time who want to tell me their stories because "it would make a great book." The most insulting was the guy who wanted to give me his story because it's so "inspiring" but said he was too busy living it to waste his time writing it down. I refrained from sticking out my tongue at him like a five year old . . .at least until after he turned around.ReplyDelete
I take it you're not lounging by the pool sipping a martini. I mean, that's what all writers really do.Delete
I would have told him to try it. It's so easy and doesn't take any time... right?