Choosing projects, or The heart knows

Writers wishing to be read have never had such choice. Writers wishing to be read have never had it so good. We are spoiled for chances, awash in potential, the globe at our fingertips and hundreds of thousands – millions, billions – of readers only a click away. Such times would be unimaginable if they were not a part of daily life. Never before has human society been positioned with both an accessible lingua franca and the means for worldwide, instant distribution in that lingua franca. What’s more, a good deal of you reading this probably speak and write that lingua franca as your native language, and those of you who don’t are no doubt so skilled in it that it may as well be your native language. The creative communicative forces waiting to be unleashed by such circumstances are hard to even begin to fathom.

The down side to all this is of course the deafening din – the drowning roar – that it tosses up. We not only stand in and with the whole Earth, singing in a single voice, we also stand in the eye of a hurricane, a storm of our own generating, and are attempting to yell through its swirling chaos at our readers on the other side. If writers are now spoiled for choice then readers are doubly, triply so. How to make oneself heard? How to even start to get noticed, attract some attention, let others know that you are here, amongst them, amongst us, writing with your own clear and unique voice that has been honed over tens of thousands of hours and is ready and waiting to be read, heard, regarded, remarked on, considered. What do you offer today’s reader? What are you holding out that cannot be gotten elsewhere? And if it can be gotten elsewhere then why get it from you and not someone – something – else?

These, I think, are the wrong questions to be asking. We write and so we want to be read, nothing could be more natural. Chefs do not of course throw away their own cooking, even if they never eat it themselves. Painters do not cover their completed canvases with sheets or hide them in trunks (usually anyway, they can be a strange lot). Musicians do not cut a track only to erase the recording. But all this is secondary, really, because as wonderful as our interconnected and interwoven world is it is filled to bursting with the cacophony of us, all of us bleary-eyed hacks hunched over our keyboards with our sallow skin sagging and craned heads filled with the dreams of our characters, arguments, points, plots, stories, critiques, commentaries. We can hope to be read, and we can make efforts to be read, but we can hardly set out to write thinking that we will be read. At least, we can hardly realistically set out to write thinking that we will be read by a great many. Some, no doubt, but hundreds of thousands? Millions? Billions? Come on!

And so we write for other reasons, we write for our own reasons. What are they? Well, ask yourself, you must know. Then – and this I think is the right question to be asking – figure out what. Not why, because we already know why, but what. What am I, in the midst of all this wondrous potential and endless choice, going to put into the world? What am I going to pursue? Chasing after readers or (goodness no) money are reasons to write, and they are bad reasons at that. We do not seek and do not need any reasons to write. We are writers, it comes to us like breathing. Rather we do – or should – seek and need projects, outlets for our energies, yet there too the possibilities are without limit and ideas tumble down one after another like drops from a waterfall. How to find one worth grabbing onto, and then how to commit to that?

I would like to suggest an annoyingly simple answer: Intuition. If we are not seeking some kind of external compensation through our writing then the task becomes valuable in and of itself. And only in and of itself. It becomes worth doing and worth sticking with, worth the inevitable – and inevitably grueling – struggle not because of what it wins from others but because of what it garners for us from us. To write is to go within, often quite deeply within regardless of what is being written, for the very act of writing is to heave a new creation out of nothing but one’s own depths. We listen to those depths, trusting them, trusting us, to tell us what it is that we seek. The subconscious mind communicating to the conscious mind. The automatic brain humming along beneath the surface to the rattling and sloppy brain incessantly chattering away in our internal monologues. We might need some practice at this listening, and we might find ourselves starting and abandoning any number of projects that at first seemed so promising, but over time and with age and experience we will learn. And then, having learned, we will carry out our projects with all the blessings and benefits that we are capable of giving ourselves. That will have been worth it, that will be its own sweet reward.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
This entry was posted in Writing Craft & Self-Publishing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Something to share?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Follow DSB on Twitter

  • Our Books