By Casey Melnick
Based on pure statistical probability, it’s rather likely, if not destined that most of the words I transmit from my mind to paper will be utter drivel bordering on the beckoning side of trite. I cannot speak much to that specific line of reasoning but I can assert that it’s better to try and fail then not even try at all. The adage is overused and I am not fond of cliches, but this one is apt. Or is it?
I spend far too much time with my head in realms where it doesn’t belong. All these words and ideas that I come up with (or at least channel through partial volition) rarely reach third party eyes. That is not conducive to gains in any measure or statistic.
One could argue (successfully) that I need to stop being lackadaisical and self-conscious. I need to impart dedication into my personal credo. I am dedicated to my craft but not enough. That is the ultimate meaning and reasoning for self-introspection. To recognize and understand the limits of personal potential and act within reason, though reason is rather subjective and debatable. If I understand what my limits and upward bounds are, then I can make progress to either reach them and cope with my regrettable deficiencies or I can productively channel the defects and climb to a higher plane of personal existence.
This abstraction may seem like hogwash but there is a point that I am trying to make. That is to say, I self-reflect quite often and at this point I know what kind of writer I am, what kind of writer I could be and to a lesser extent, what kind of writer that I should be. The first point is quite easy. I am not much of one.
To say that I am a writer would be disingenuous. Well, mostly disingenuous.
Though I write on a semi daily basis ( I fancy to do it every day, but you know what they say about good intentions) my amount of public work is paltry at best. Thus, I am more like a being that is masquerading as an ideal version of itself.
As the case usually is, the image of the self is quite different than the image of the perceiving others. Someone would take a look at me and my supposed writings and say, “What have you had published? Do you have an extensive portfolio I could look over?”
Not exactly. Technically I have thousands of pages of writings that are hidden in from sight in my hard drive but most of them are words of drivel and nonsensical ruminations.
As you can ascertain, I am not a writer by many definitions of the word. Now, that is with the understanding that role is defined by apparent worth of external output. I certainly write a lot, most likely more than the average person does. So I could be considered a subset of individuals who are undergoing a change or metamorphosis and/or are stuck a crossroads. Between point a and point b but not suited for any accompanying label just yet. A pseudo being.
The second point concerning what kind of writer I could be is more nuanced. What do I have in my arsenal that makes my writing special or unique and what am I particularly interested in?
I don’t think genre writing is quite right for me and my strengths don’t align with that line of production. I need to create an aesthetic or mood with my creations that hold a certain allure. For example, I am influenced by Haruki Murakami but I don’t want to write a novel exactly like him. For that would make me a shallow mimic. Murakami’s characters tend to be the same general type of middle aged men longing for personal connections. They seek escape from tortures of their inner minds that are often caused by women. I do like these novels and I identify with the relatability within his prose and how I can almost identify with the main character right away. I am certain able to see and feel and think like the main character. In other words, his brand of compatible escapism is easily consumable and its fun.
Murakami is admirable but I need to discover a style of writing that is my own and identifiable to a certain extent. When you read a Murakami or someone like Hemingway, you know who the author is immediately. Identifiable prose and mellifluous sentence structure make for enjoyable and repeatable readings.
I recognize that the age today does not treat books with a great deal of respect. After all, ideas posited in a book today could easily be proven wrong tomorrow and published on a website immediately. In that way, nonfiction books and journals( at least paper versions of themselves i.e. static) may not stand the test of time but fiction still has a place. People crave stories regardless of the medium. Whether it’s from a movie, tv, videogame or novel, a story is timeless.
So that is the formula to writing book or at least a highly elementary simplification of what it takes to make a book of merit.
I need to make a writing style that is acceptable to at least some and a story that is accepted or at least understood by most. For people can get past an esoteric writing style or phrasing as long as the story is meaningful( see most classics that are written in language not even used today).
The other alternative is not what I want to aim for. A book that is well written but lacks a worthwhile story seems superfluous. These opinions are just that though. I do like the act of reading and I have still read my fair share of maladroit stories with proper and neat prose. And vice versa. My point is that the world has many authors and writer walking the planet and unless you have a distinguishable feature, you likely will have a hard time reaching any destination of worth. Worth technically isn’t defined by reception of output but it certainly help monetary worth and with increased wealth comes increased opportunity in the general sense.
So what author could I be? Well I have the necessary experience this point as what to a “good novel” looks like and what a “bad novel” falls victim to throughout the annals of history. It’s now simply a matter of producing and having my creations read and consumed.
Now to the philosophical side to my argument. The should of it all.
What should I be? This implies a twofold assumption. That I have control over my destiny or that I have no control over the happenings of my life.
If I indeed have control over my actions and reality, then I shouldn’t have to be anything that I don’t want to. This argument falls apart though because there have been so many poor people in the world who have suffered horrible lives and then they died. See early human history.
If there was a thing such as free will, why wouldn’t all these defeated citizens simply choose to better their situations. There will always be people who choose to wallow in despair and destitution but in history you would have to imagine that most people who suffered terrible fates would have chosen a different path if they could have. I am saying that free will implies that poverty and depravity is easily mollified by sheer determination and I don’t think that is simply a matter of fact.
There are many factors that go into a person becoming poor or unfortunate and that plays into my argument. I don’t know if there isn’t any free will entirely but I do know resolutely that humans are subject to scenarios in which they have no control and won’t ever have control. Doesn’t that imply that free will isn’t a thing?
Take for example, if I am driving down the road and a car traveling down the wrong side hits me. Was that my fault or his fault? Upon a basic foundation of what fault means, the other driver and his wayward car seems at fault. Until you examine the scenario further and apply the notion that we lack free will. If there was no free will, the scenario was always destined to play out. If you were to simulate this exact scenario, the simulation results would always be the same. So was there fault?
The chemical makeup of the brain is a certain way for everyone on the planet. You are you because of the bundle of neurons, cells, and other amalgamations of organic material. Since there is a set order to the way things are made, when you were created that was the combination you were born with.
In other words, the combination that you had no control over choosing will dictate much of your existence if not most.
You clench you hand into a fist. “I have free will because I can tell myself to do this.” But can’t that argument could be invalidated?
To get to this point in time, an unconscionable amount of variables in the universe have taken place and you exist precisely here because they happened in a particular way. Even if you were to hypothesize a world that other things took place, it doesn’t change the fact that you are here right now clenching your fist because you do in fact exist. It’s sort of a feedback loop.
Things happen the way they do because they happen the way they do. You may think you have control over moving limbs or arms or simply you think you are aware of actions undertaken by a living organism that had no part in its own creation. The observer is biased because you cannot separate the perceiver from its own action.
This whole argument is purely speculative and quite frankly I don’t know enough to further pontificate but I want to relate these words to my writer label argument.
I was always destined to become a writer because that is how my life is playing out. I am working under the assumption that given the same starting point, a simulation of my life would always yield the same results. I would like to say that if I look at my past I can identify the issues and faults and work to correct them. But if the past is indicative of the present, I am not in control of these truths and I am forced to perceive my deficiencies but know deep down that I will always be the same person.
But I digress.
To recapitulate my third point, I don’t think I should be anything nor do I think anyone technically should be anything in the sense that they have unfulfilled prophesies. The phrase wasted potential need not apply here. It’s more like we are watching story play out. We may have choices here and there that seem meaningful and hold apparent brevity but I would implore you to check your initial assumptions.
To take credit for faults or virtues, the good and the bad, seems futile but that still leaves room for celebration of the good and the admonishment of the bad and the ugly. What exists in life simply exists and taking credit for anything seems wrong at a certain level. I will try to revisit this principal when I have a grasp on reality and metaphysics that is not tenuous.
Perhaps then I can call myself a writer.