On writing

The biggest problem I face as a writer is figuring out what to write, and then how to write it. I want every word I type to be in of itself witty, profound and life-changing, and at the same time be part of a greater, stunning, verbal construct that is also witty, profound and life-changing, but also greater than the sum of its witty, profound and life-changing parts.

In the normal world, they call this “analysis paralysis”. You think about something so much, so deeply and so widely that you overwhelm your brain – the part that matters, anyway. You’re trying to change too many gears at the same time, and your car has stalled.

So it goes with writing.

Everybody writes. We have the Internet now, and everyone can instantly go from brain to keyboard to the world, unfiltered and entitled and expectant. It’s out there now, so it has to be read. And statistically speaking, it probably will be.

And as the law of supply and demand dictates, when there’s a lot of supply, demand moves onto better things. Literally – people will demand higher quality.

So it goes with writing. With so much out there, instantly available and immediately accessible, the bar rises and floats to the top. Natural selection ensues and everything cheap, trivial, mundane and dull perishes into oblivion.

How do you get read today? How do you grab the attention of a postmodern, apathetic, “seen-it-all”, hard-to-impress, hipster audience? Humour? Self-deprecation? “Real talk”?

Fact is, I have no idea. I’m just here to write.

Except I want every single word I write to radiate with wit, profundity and life-changing force. I want every tap on my keyboard to echo a step closer to the New World. I want you to read poetry or prose, I want you to start nodding in assent, then to get that tingle in your chest, that smile on your face, that elevation, that transcendence, that ungluing from the solid world and into the ether of the mind, I want my words to subdue your surroundings, to dim the lights, to quiet the noise, to isolate you and cage you and hit you blow after blow after blow with verbal punches until the word, the page, the paragraph, the text has melded into your world, consumed it and swallowed it whole and left you sinking into the soft vacuum of narrative, character, voice, story, meaning, theme, closure, plot device, cliché, first, second, third act and then gently or forcefully re-enter you back into your same old world with a different you, an impressed you, a richer you and an affected you.

Except, like sieving through the riverbed for gold, most of what you find is age-old carbon.

Rocks. Stones. Pebbles. The stuff you just chuck back.

So it goes with writing. Poetry and prose play ping-pong and the writer’s in the middle trying to catch the little white ball. That’s me – and if you write – and I mean if you write meaningfully – that’s probably you too.

This is where, in the 722 words of this text, unstructured and unedited, instantly available and immediately accessible, I would lay some writing wisdom on you. You know, the kind that is witty, profound and life-changing. The sort of thing that writing websites would quote if I ever became a famous writer.

Except I have nothing; and that’s the point.

I can’t tell you how to write. No-one can. Sure, there are rules, and most of them you can’t break. But if this rambling text, in its 722 words, means something to you, chances are you already know the rules and you already know that’s not what I’m talking about.

So if you write, write. That’s it. And don’t tell others how to write. Let them find their own way. Let them produce their own rocks and stones and pebbles – and somewhere there, they’ll finally get some gold going. And that gold in the mud will actually mean something, and it will be read and it will affect and it will be worth it.

Demand is up and doesn’t care. It wants to feed with words and air. My words are fodder and despair, and yet I solemnly declare that here I sit upon my chair, caught between poetry and prose, trying to write something witty, profound and life-changing.

— Nik

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