Writers, Stop Writing About Writing



This might be hypocritical. It?s likely a bit odd and possibly (probably) pretentious. Some might refer to it as Meta. I prefer to think of it as Inception-like. As a writer, I have some things to write about writers writing about writing.

Writers writing about writing, while not always pretentious, can reach levels of pretention previously only dreamed of. Sometimes this shows itself as melodrama. ?I write because I must.? ?The pressure of pain begins to build until, of a sudden, it burst forth like lava from a volcano . . . and I write.? ?Publishing a written work is like sending a child off to school for the first time, every time.? ?Writing is a grueling, thankless task, but I have no choice. I am compelled?

Gag me. Nobody wants to hear about the travails of the writer, not even other writers. (In fact, while you?d think other writers would be the most empathetic we are in fact the least inclined to care about your moaning.) If it?s so awful, quit, for all our sakes. You?re not compelled against your will; you write because you enjoy it, or at least something about it. And with all that whining, methinks what you love most is the attention not the craft.

Other times, and more often, the pretension shows itself as constancy. That is to say it keeps showing up, because writers won?t quit writing about writing. A short roll of the eyeballs around the interwebs will reveal a dozen daily new posts by writers about writing. Some writers have blogs devoted to writing about writing.

Give it a rest. Your subject matter is tired. Your craftsmanship suffers because of redundancy and a limited pallet. And you become difficult to trust because, well, you never write about life. And life is the stuff of writing, not writing itself.

The last incarnation of pretension is uppityness. When Stephen King writes a book about writing I read it cover to cover and then start over. And it is marvelous. When a thirty-something, barely published, Internet composer of public journal entries does so, it?s uppity. Stephen King can tell me to ?kill my darlings?, not many others can. They ought to be figuring which of their own darlings to off.

You know what?s remarkable? How little the truly great writers say or said about writing itself. They just wrote. And so should we. They didn?t cogitate on ?the life of the writer?; no, they lived life, digested it, and regurgitated it in words and stories and essays. They learned and responded. They read and read some more. And they wrote. And so should we. Maybe, someday, we?ll be good enough to write about writing, but if we are we?ll probably be too busy living and writing to notice.

photo credit: cellar_door_films via photopin cc

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