My son came to my room the other day while I was reading and said, “I am happy with the way I organized my library this time. I sorted my books out and arranged the shittiest all on one shelf at the bottom, the less shitty on a shelf above and put the best on the top shelf.”
I looked at him happy with his arrangement and I asked, “Hmm, and what do you mean by shittiest?”
“You know writers who write shit, garbage,” he said in his usual boisterous teenage manner.
My son is obsessed with books the same way he is obsessed with computer games. Of course his taste and priorities have changed over the years.
It got me thinking. Of all the books in my library I have many whose stories I don’t remember. I don’t even recall the names of the characters. I try hard to in vain, and then I start rereading the book and halfway through I realize that I have already read it and am familiar with the story. Unfortunately this has been happening quite often lately, specially with these so called ‘bestsellers’. The case is different with the classics, even though they are hard to read nowadays. If it is not the story, then it’s the characters that speak to you, or an unforgettable scene, a sense or feeling that grips you. Such rare books are hard to find.
“There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” — Stephen King
People have different tastes and they buy different books, but we all buy books for the one and same reason: we all love to read. Some of us may even like to write. If you are like me and have read every available book on writing, have attended writers’ workshops, have subscribed to different magazines, have become members of different book clubs, and taken some courses in creative writing, the one thing that you learn is to ‘write from experience.’
We all experience different things in our lives, not all of which make good writing material. When you are young you are full of feelings, of dogmas, of ideals. Most of the time things seem to be out of context. You hear an item on the news, or read an article in the newspaper, and everything seems so wrong and you have so much to say that you’re boiling from within.
“This is what drives a young writer out of his head, this feeling that nothing is being said.”—William Saroyan
As you mature and gain experience, you develop a different perspective towards life. Things that bothered you before don’t bother you enough to get your blood boiling. You learn from experience that things are not always what they seem to be and by that time you know there’s more to life than appearance. Then you write from your;
“Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road he wants to go. I would only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.” — Ray Bradbury
So to all my fellow writers and all of you out there who want to write:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway
I wish you all a happy bleeding.