Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Writer Needs


A writer doesn't need a pen or paper.
Doesn't need good ideas.
Doesn't need an exciting life.
Or language skill.
Or a talent with words.
Or originality, or wisdom, or clarity.

There's only one essential.
All else is fungible.
A writer needs an audience.

All writing is a conversation.
You need to have in mind who's reading.
It's not exactly that you need to know your audience.
I think the harder task is to pick your audience.
It's a good idea to find and listen to someone
who you will want to read and like it.
Finding is hard. Listening is harder.
Deciding who they are may be the painfullest.
Feeling blocked just means you've failed at picking.

Do you write a manual for the layperson?
Or the towering ivory priest?
Or the person you were just before you learned it?
Or will be after you forget it?
Do you try to make it useful to some,
and just bearable to others?
And who will you forget?

Are you writing to your boss who will pay for it?
Or the lost love you almost met?
Or that obscure acquaintance who expects you to do well?
Or that guy who criticized something you wrote last year,
and it stung and stuck?
Or an archaeologist from the next civilization?
Or me.

Or that person you'll never know
whose life you'll change.
Or the person they almost are,
the person they want to be,
and you so want them to be.
Or the person who should have been
but probably won't
but might
but won't
but may.
Do you pretend you can create a person
just by wishful thinking
and talking to them?

Yes I think that's what I need to write.
To create the person, word by word,
elbowing and ribbing their becoming,
out of my muddled, clabbered yearning
idea made flesh.

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