Saturday, July 21, 2012

Writing is not a business and books are not consumer products.

To me, writing is an art and only the truly talented people can claim the privilege of being called writers. There is no course, no school that will teach a person how to create magic with their words. I'm not a very assertive person, have always had problems due to trying to please everyone and will most likely suffer mental anguish from worrying over what others think of me for the rest of my life. That is the reason why I may write a comment here and there about the sad state of writing world/culture but I never really outright talk or write in full length about all that bothers me. But I have to now. I see it as a duty to myself to speak up now, even if no one reads a word of it.

I've been asking myself some questions. One of the things I wanted to know was what my beliefs were. And then I became worried that I might not have any (the process and what led to it, and the outcome are all a lot more complicated but not the subject of this post, hence the very simplified version). Thankfully, I do. I believe in the power of the written word to save lives, to change a person, and to influence change in the world. Great literature can, and has done all that.

Sadly, fewer and fewer people seem to believe that. And I think about why true gift is afforded so little regard and respect, every single day. It's killing me. Especially when I see my fellow readers, self-proclaimed lovers of books state that at the end of the day, 'It's just a book.' But then, I get a kick in the wound caused by readers comments because I see writers say exactly the same thing.

I want to ask the scribblers of the world who so profess their love of reading and writing:

Why the fuck are you writing?!

I have my answer but I hope that maybe readers will stop and look for one too.

And then, the most important question needs to be answered:

Why do you read?

Do you know what art does to me? It speaks to me in ways that not one person has ever spoken to me. I couldn't ever explain it to anyone who hasn't experienced it as well. One sentence in a book can break my heart. A description of a country's landscape will have me reeling with homesickness, and sarcastic humor of a character will make me laugh, regardless of where I am or in whose company.

Not all books are like that and not all people can write in such a way. But what I described is magic and magic is rare nowadays and all the more precious for it.

What has been happening recently online with readers and authors attacking one another is disgusting but also useful to me. I now know that not all readers are equal in their love for books, some of them may not even like reading so much as showing their questionable prowess in the usage of offensive language, snarky remarks and general nastiness. I also realize now, with greater clarity than ever, that a disturbing number of authors see their books as products and themselves as business 'owners'.

I don't even want to think in how many ways this 'writing as entrepreneurship' concept is wrong. Writers are artists. Most importantly, books are precious pieces of art, not a product to be sold alongside household devices.

I want absolutely nothing to do with this 'business' of putting out books. The books I read leave an imprint on me, make my life better, even if in a small way. Your products won't, because you're not really writing your souls into them, you're just trying to make money.

I know this blog is not a crazy popular site with tons of visitors a day. In an age when good writing is considered pretentious and you're only right when you agree with the majority (and called uppity, condescending, judgmental and arrogant when you don't), controversy reigns. Most importantly though, reading has always been a solitary activity for me, certainly not a means to socialize more. I want to write about books. I don't want to socialize, especially with people whom I can't even look in the eyes when we're conversing. I'm not criticizing any of it here, it's just not me. I'm an introvert through and through, I have no interest in virtual exhibitionism. But I appreciate gifted writers, I know talent when I read one and wish to convey that here by sharing my thoughts on fantastic novels that are classics and those that are just being published for the first time. I believe in literature and that it will live on, long after the 'scribbling business' folds.