Are you trying to write something worth reading, or are you trying to write something which will be read? Are you trying to write your truth, or are you trying to appeal to the truth of others?
The famous Benjamin Franklin quote is the source of that, I suppose. Here it is:
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Being the neurotic thinker that I am, I’ve opted for the former. Here is what I’ve found to be true for me.
Too often we get caught up in check boxes. Have I made a good plot? Check. Have I fleshed out my characters? Check. Have I avoided adjectives? Check. Check………Check………………
Does this not seem too robotic to be art? Can you bottle lightening? Can you capture the rainbow? Could anyone before Van Gogh have told him how to do what he did?
I do not think so. The greats of this world- The Platos and Shakespeares, Zhuangzi’s and Sophocles… They did not check any boxes, because their fate was to create the boxes we would later check.
Maybe everyone doesn’t want to be one of these Greats. I certainly do, and I feel in my heart that we all want to leave an indelible mark on this world… That, with most, the lady doth protest too much in matters of greatness. And so I wonder; why do so many people ask how to be great, when greatness seems to come from… nowhere? From nothing. From faith in our own Truth, the rest be damned.
I would say that in writing, or art, or in any endeavor that is worth a man’s time- the best path to follow is the one that is whispered to you from your own soul.
Damn the rules. Van Gogh died poor and alone; so too did Nietzsche. Do you think these men looked left and right before they set to work? Did these men ask for permission?
Their creations were written to this mantra: fuck the system.
The system was made to be overcome- to be overwritten. Nothing that could be contained in language could compare to the pulse of existence which lies in ourselves.
Too often we lie to ourselves. Why do you want to write this book? This blog? Why do you want to do anything at all? Most of us might argue we’re authentic, but a glance at this world shows that true authenticity is one of the rarest things there is. And rightly so- authenticity lies behind the lies we tell ourselves, and those are the lies that we cannot see. How anyone becomes authentic is a mystery, a fluke, a question without answer.
Am I authentic? I’d like to think so- but I know better than to assume I am. I’ve met my own lies enough to realize that they may be typing this post.
So this about supposed to be about writing. Fundamentally its about much, much more, but writing can fit in.
Write the book you wrote when you forgot that you existed. Write the book that came the moment you forgot about sex, and fame, and money, and greatness. Write the book that comes when the line between you and existence fades, and all that remains is the process which you are.