Tuesday, 1 November 2011

WRITING: The Joy and The Sadness

There are few truths about writing that can be stated with absolute certainty but this is one, and this is part of the sadness of writing: A writer can never experience what he has written for the very first time.

Undeniably the writer is the first person in the world to see his individual words as they appear on the page, but he is cursed never to experience that magical (tragical?) first discovery of his completed sentences. Obvious? Yes, but in that truism lies the joy and the sadness, plus endless potential for self discovery and life enrichment. In my opinion that potential for self discovery and life enrichment comes from the act of subjecting writing to the honest scrutiny of others – writers and readers – and from the need for any serious writer to get inside the heads of his characters and his readers. In short, I believe that a writer needs to cultivate a thick skin, an ability to listen and above all the magical ingredient of empathy. The writer without empathy must be a lonely person indeed. But for the writer with empathy the world is his friend and his inspiration.

Speaking of loneliness, blogging is a strange and mysterious adjunct to writing. Writing this piece I have not the slightest idea whether my words will ever be read by a single living soul. I do hope one or two living souls do drop by because I’m writing my chuffing heart out here. (Do please leave a comment if you visit, even if you’re simply lost in cyberspace, just to give me a little reassurance. If you have problems with the comment function, tweet me @OscarWindsor). Whilst I have nothing personally against bots of  the benign information-collating ilk, bots and I really don’t have a lot to say to one another. Come to think of it, perhaps bots do speak to other people. Maybe it’s only me? Hello… Hello… Calling fellow travellers in interblogetary craft… Nothing. Still, at least they don’t nick my biscuits and go away leaving the lights on like human visitors… Hang on though… Look, whoever – whatever – you are, it’s all very well to say you’re human. How can I possibly know? I’ve heard about a recent upsurge in Turing-test Pass certificates. Do bots eat biscuits?

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yes. There is one chink of light in the darkness of a writer’s inability to get that magical (he hopes) ‘first view’: On occasion - it must happen by chance, otherwise the effect doesn’t work - a writer may discover a piece of writing and think, as writers sometimes do: ‘I wish I’d written that,’ and only later realise that in fact he did. In that brief moment he experiences the joy of writing.