Are You a Writer?

Portrait of a writer

A writer is an innocent liar, a soother of troubled minds, a gluer of broken hearts, a dreamer of forgotten dreams, an adventurer afraid of heights.

Whether he is called a poet, a novelist, a playwright, a screen writer, or a journalist, a writer observes the world around him, and especially people, and what they do and how they do it, and he writes.

A writer cannot dance, or sing, or paint, or draw, or mold shapes out of clay, but when he writes, he does all those things, and many more besides.

A writer writes because he hates the world he lives in and his person, and needs to create an alternative world to which he can escape. A writer also writes because he loves the world he lives in and his person, and wants to praise them both.

Solitude, quiet living, and genes make a writer shy and reserved when in the company of others. He listens more than he talks, and he listens well, and hears many stories, which he then writes, so they will not be forgotten.

A bundle of mischievous atoms in the daylight, a well of tears at night, a writer is often happy, often sad, depending on the alignment of the planets, and on the seasons.

To make you laugh, a writer tickles himself.

A writer is as lazy as he is hardworking. He can do nothing useful for weeks, months, and then one day, by inspirational chance or chance inspiration, he starts to write, and he writes incessantly for days, weeks, months, and to him what he does is not work, but play.

A writer looks like other people, does what other people do, and loves and hates like other people, and yet, he is more than other people, because when they assembled him at the human factory, they added to him a tiny cog than they did not give to other people.

A writer is caviar in a can of beans.

(This was first published last year.)
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81 thoughts on “Are You a Writer?

  1. Great post. I’d add, ‘Writers are conduits sought by the stories that haunt the world. Writers are channels for extraordinary people with extraordinary messages’. Thanks for this.

  2. I think, sometimes, “writers” over value themselves – not within the community of writers but within the larger community. They get drunk and irresponsible by the notion that they are actually doing something original and they seem to think that is what is important, when it isn’t – reduction to truth is more important than expansion to accommodate personality. Fortunately, these writers usually starve to death or get out of the game and find useful work somewhere else before they do any real damage.

    A writer’s duty is to humility because the story pre-exists them and the story endures beyond them. The writer, really, is largely irrelevant and ephemeral. If, in fact, they are any good, they little more an engineer who arranges words that move the story from them to the next person. Their obligation is not to their own pretensions of art, but to the story. I think Jonah Lehrer is a great example of what happens when a writer gets carried away with his own ideal of himself being bigger than what he is charged to record. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow!

    Or that’s what I think. But then I get paid to write stuff, so maybe I am too cynical. 🙂

    1. Seb, I agree 101% with what you say. I have similar views. But practical cynicism, which is helpful in real life, is a poor source of inspiration for blog posts writing.

      The draft of this post on my computer has a sad ending, which asks whether writers are incomplete persons. But again, that would make for a lousy post.

      Writers write to entertain and inspire. 😉

      1. To add to thisd discussion, may I say that a writer’s work is really defined by his audience.

        In blogging, the hat wearer’s practically right in saying that gloomy and brooding posts are not really a hit. Still, people who dislike sunshiney stuff do exist.

        A writer exist because he has an audience. I refuse to believe people write only for themselves. Writers write because they want to be heard – much like why a singer sings or an actor acts. All of them, us, wants a validation of our existence. Truth or fantasy, it’s effectiveness depends on the audience. Know what tool to use. But before that, we must first know our audience. More often than not, they’re usually reflections of ourselves.

        That or maybe I really am drunk. I got to sleep this off.

      1. A wonderfully reflective post Sir, suitable tempered by the comments of Seb – a kind of yin and yang of equal merit. I often thing for me that I write for cathartic purposes. It’s like an outlet for the overspill of thoughts and emotions and I’m trying to somehow write wrongs right. But yeah, you pursue this course as a career and the factual practicalities of soliciting an audience that will earn you a living punctures the balloon of your creative ego, deflating your enthusiasm as your drop back down to earth. It’s more often a bitter sweet ‘compulsion’ rather than ‘gift’.

  3. “A writer is caviar in a can of beans.”

    I love this site, but then I see something like this and get all pissy because I’m not sure, even after a thousand hours, that I could have come up with that.

    Another great post, as usual.

  4. I like to think that I am a writer. I often claim to be. Then, there are times when I simply think that I am only a person who captures dreams and thoughts by the words that represent them; not wholly, but at least in part.

  5. I love your blog and I am a follower now. In my opinion writers are important because they write the history of the world. Fiction, academic writing, non-fiction they all detail what is happening in the world. The good, the bad, the ugly, the funny, and the downright stupid things we all do. What a sad place it would be if we didn’t have writers, painters, or artists or any kind.
    cheers Judy 🙂
    judysp.wordpress.com

  6. “A writer cannot dance, or sing, or paint, or draw, or mold shapes out of clay, but when he writes, he can do all those things, and many more besides.”

    Now, is that sentence yours? If that is, I must stretch my hands and pat on your back. That’s awesome, buddy!

  7. There are time when we doubt a lot of things. However I believe that to be a writer is to be a believer in one’s self. We may never be published or we might but either way we are writers. We refuse to give in, we will remain who we are. Thanks for shareing your thoughts with the wide world. You’ve taken the first step of many.

    Write all you can and never stop. The written word will never grow old or forget where it came from. It just is.

  8. i could not agree anymore. also i believe in addition to just observing the world around oneself, a writer also analyses worlds he wants to create in order to make them feel real and lifelike, with the characters in them bringing a new emotion into play.

  9. So much truth under your hat, dear sir! Thanks for sharing it 😉

    I particularly love your description of the love/hate relationship a writer has with the world, and agree with Seb’s comment above…writing can be the greatest form of surrender 🙂

  10. “A writer writes because he hates the world he lives in and his person, and needs to create an alternative world to which he can escape. A writer also writes because he loves the world he lives in and his person, and wants to praise them both.”

    I write for this reason alone. I love humanity and despise its injustice. It’s comforting to hear from a fellow, like-minded writer.

  11. how do you do this? voicing out the thoughts of so many… im having second thoughts on my comment on your other post. i dunno if you inspire or discourage me – in writing. bwaha! 🙂 doesn’t matter. you give a good face to writing in depth in the simplest manner.

  12. This post was beyond fabulous, and you put into words many of the things I’ve recently expressed myself. I’ve shared this with a friend of mine who is a college Creative Writing instructor. I’m sure she too will enjoy it, as well as be depressed by the fact the majority of her students combined can’t match the talent displayed in this blog. Kudos.

  13. A writer is a person who wants to percieve things as per his own prospective and often try to mix and match the things around him in a world in which he lives may be sharing with the love of his life or may be alone. A writter become a full writer when he is in love, when he talks with nature and when he chooses a path may be alone or may be with his love

  14. Yes, we writers are liars.
    And also, so are the folks who think of themselves as ‘writers’ but who never try learning, studying, or working to master the skill and craft of storytelling.
    Those folks are liars as well, telling their biggest falsehoods to themselves.

  15. I enjoyed this very much. I think that telling stories is how we make sense of the world, and is a distinctly human skill. When we stop telling stories, we ignore a major part of our humanity. =]

  16. This made my day. Thanks for such a beautiful post. “A writer is as lazy as he is hardworking…”I wish though I could get that inspiration more often.

  17. I have spent a lot of time reevaluating all of the energy I’ve dedicated to being a “writer”. I constantly ask myself why.

    And I think I found my answer in your words.

    “A writer writes because he hates the world he lives in and his person, and needs to create an alternative world to which he can escape. A writer also writes because he loves the world he lives in and his person, and wants to praise them both.”

  18. “A writer cannot dance, or sing, or paint, or draw, or mold shapes out of clay, but when he writes, he does all those things, and many more besides.”

    Beautiful. There are no words for how this touched me. Thank you.

  19. Reblogged this on tbrando and commented:
    “A writer is an innocent liar”…..I have known this of myself all along, but it is refreshing to hear the “innocent” part added to “liar” as it is the truth.

  20. Reblogged.. 🙂

    Writers are essential for those souls who find themselves unable to lend a pen to their ecstasies or turmoils and breathe easy when they find them expressed in someone else’s ink.

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