Write to please yourself. And find as much pleasure as you can in the company of your work. But don’t try to draw others’ attention to your work. They shall find nothing in your work to sustain their interest.
By Shravani Dang
Some are born to write; some learn to write; others write to please themselves.
People who write to please themselves
Those who write to please themselves should stop at that. They can revel in the company of their work. They can read them, over and over again, and have all the fun they seek. It is their work. They can look upon the work as perfect in every way.
In fact, it is perfect, from their viewpoint. They can find no flaw in their work. Rightly has it been said, “For the crow, its young one is the most beautiful of nestling in the world.” It is when they try to take to a wider audience, to impress others that they run into trouble.
Those who are clever diplomatically avoid a judgement of the work, say that they are not equipped to judge real literary merit. “You must show it to a critic and find his response,” they suggest. This is an advice that those who write to please themselves must avoid like plague.
The critic shall tear their work to pieces. He shall shower scorn and ridicule on the authors of work that strike him as puerile. Why take this risk? Why go out of one’s way to become the target of explosive remarks and derisive comments!
So our advice to this set of people is quite clear. Write to please yourself. And find as much pleasure as you can in the company of your work. But don’t try to draw others’ attention to your work. They shall find nothing in your work to sustain their interest.
People who learn to write
They have a good command of the language. They know the subtle nuances of words. They know the difference between lightning and lightning bug. They know where the word COMPLEMENTARY is to be used; and where the word COMPLIMNETARY. They also know that words limit their equipment. They are aware of a limitation. They know that their imagination rarely soars free. That is their tragedy.
It takes them time to realize this fact. But the quicker they sense their inherent limitation, the better it is for them. For they then learn to write informative articles, insights, editorials, features etc for the Press. They learn how to manage books around a defined topic.
They write well. They write incisively. Over a period of time, their expression becomes smooth, flowing, relevant, pertinent and hence of immense appeal to the readers.
They have a role to play. And so long as they serve this role, nobody can find fault with them. In fact some of them gain a fair amount of readership following too.
But great literature is not theirs to create. That belongs to those who are born to write.
People who are born to write
They do not go about asking others how to write. They do not wait for formal courses in creative writing. It is the belief of those who have found niches for themselves in the world of literature that the ability to write great literature is a gift of the Gods. This gift cannot be bought; nor commanded. One either has it; or doesn’t have it.
Those who have it are dreamers. They live in a make believe world. They are impractical, unsuited to work at home finances; or to run a business; or to work at an establishment. Some try to do that, but fail.For their mind is not on the job. It is elsewhere. It is constantly being blown around by the creative force.
This force is a powerful slave driver. It looks upon those who are born to write as slaves who shall do nothing else but write. The creative process overrules all else. Those who are born to write thus expose themselves to all sorts of troubles. They starve, their personal relations end up in disasters; their children become vagabonds, their finances hit the rocks, their personal reputations plunge. But these are the fiery ordeal through which the creative minds have to pass to purify their thoughts and to filter out the finest of literary products.
So every young aspirant must, before he chooses literature as a career, must ask himself the following questions. He must answer them honestly.
1. Do I enjoy anything else as much as writing?
2. Am I ready to face the pains and the perils which go with the career?
3. Shall I survive the worst of criticism if my writing is ahead of the
time and the critics lack the skill to judge my merit?
4. Shall I write for money and the comforts and the luxuries that go with it?
5. Shall I remain true to the Muse, all through life?
Try these questions. Seek the answers by plumbing into your very being. Be honest to yourself.
Till next time, then.
(This article was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2003) and is now extracted from Learning and Creativity.)