1. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    How much have people suffered for being writers?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by gigantes, Aug 6, 2008.

    which known writers have suffered for being writers? which have died for being writers? (these questions occured to me based on the splenda thread)

    one example that occurs is jean-paul marat, who was one of robespierre's and danton's faction during the french revolution. he was a rather bloodthirsty revolutionist who vehemently opposed the old guard and the moderates. due to his publications and POV he was stabbed to death by charlotte corday while taking bathing therapy.

    perhaps another who suffered for being a writer was aleksandr solzhenitsyn, who just passed away. i know little about his life, though.

    EDIT: improved the wording.
     
  2. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Well Poe, of course, died early, but I don't think it was because he was a writer so much as that artistic types tend to be moodly and easily depressed. (Also heavy drinkers if they wanted to be famous). :)
     
  3. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I think you are confusing "Being killed for your ideals and beliefs" and "being a writer"

    I think writers suffer from their own daemons and artistic nature, no so much for their profession.

    Idealist and Activist are not necessarily artistic, but they sometimes have great influence and as such cause great actions.
     
  4. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    not so much that, more that i couldn't think of a good example of someone who suffered merely for being a writer.

    another example would be people who published catty commentary about another person, angering that person and leading to them challenging the offender to a duel. i seem to recall some famous people who died that way around the 18th century but can't think of specific names right now...


    well... as long as they write formally then they have to be considered writers, no?

    apropos, i can think of one more possibility- people who became addicted to writing such that they lost contact with the world at large and became more socially awkward over time for it. that kind of thing can become a feedback loop.

    an example of that type might be emily dickenson, right?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    many, perhaps most writers from the beginning of historical time, have 'suffered'... from alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty, lack of recognition, and the other agonies that go with such a solitary and seldom rewarding pursuit...

    none... but some [from socrates on] have been caused to suffer and/or been killed because of what they wrote...
     
  6. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    You know that box next to the Wendy's?
    Well, there's always the possibility that your writing never takes you anywhere, and in sheer vexation and desperation, you become depressed and kill yourself... I don't think writing takes that kind of toll on most people though. Call it a hunch.
     
  7. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    excellent point and if i may run with it-

    some people suffer because they've got their heart set on some profession or skillset but due to lack of talent (or other reasons) they're simply not able to go very far in that field. but instead of just moving on they stubbornly persist in that field... perhaps because they have some dream or obsession about the matter that won't let them let go. perhaps because of childhood experience or conditioning.

    this is probably true about a number of different people in a number of different fields, in fact.
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    mammamaia, I get a kick out of you. You're right, "writing" never killed anybody. LOL

    Ah, but that could change. I can see it now . . . The Manuscript Murders! A psychopathic manuscript mysteriously becomes animated and embarks on a terrible rage as a serial killer, obsessed with writers toiling in literary obscurity. Seeking aspiring authors, as they hide from the real world, immersed in the throes of creativity, the crazed manuscript slips quietly through an unlocked window. In her obsession with a current POV, the author fails to notice the shadow growing on the wall nearby. Without warning, the killer manuscript unleashes a barrage of rejection letters, forcing the writer-victim to the ground under the monstrous weight of literary failure.

    It takes three days for the writer's husband to notice she has not exited from self-imposed exile in the converted walk-in closet. Soon, local police cordon off the area and call in specialists to deal with the oppressive pile of paper. These editors, so experienced at trashing large piles of unread pages, soon expose the cold, stiff corpse of a once starry-eyed writer. The modus operandi was clear. The crazy manuscript claimed yet another victim. Where will it strike next? Writers everywhere . . . BEWARE!


    gig, sorry for the tongue-in-cheek. simply couldn't resist after reading mammamaia's comment.

    In truth, I could not care less about history's famous writer's who suffered for their views. They made informed decisions and experienced the anticipated consequences for their actions. On the other hand, writing can be addictive, carrying with it all the usual social, psychological and even physical curses of addiction. My heart goes out to the aspiring writers whose obsession causes divorce, estrangement from kids or friends, social isolation, financial failure and all the other negative impacts of obsession. As a former "professional bass fisherman", I watched many of my peers become so entranced by the ego-strokes of sponsorship and competition that they went bankrupt, left wonderful families and ended with nothing.

    As far as the few famous writers who died for a "cause" . . . it was the "cause" that killed them, not the writing.

    I know, I know. This is too argumentative for a guy who eschews debate. LOL Damn, I hate those fly specks in the pepper. I'll shut up now . . . promise.
     
  9. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tonuge in cheek? I don't get it. What does that mean?
     
  10. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I'm actually sort of confused by this thread.... I don't really see how anyone has "suffered" from merely being a writer. At least, I don't see how writers have suffered any more than other professions, even in the artistic/creativity division. I guess what you write can cause you to suffer, but even so, that's a conscious decision and a risk you take. Otherwise, though, I'm not seeing the point. Sorry if I'm coming off as slow, but I really don't get it. :confused:
     
  11. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    that's an eye-opener for me. have you had much experience with writing addiction? (seems so odd to me)

    wow... i never would have guessed. (just shows that i'm a fishing rube i guess)


    i'm sure it meant that he was angling for a french kiss. either that or he was being facetious.


    whiskey tango foxtrot? well, in the first post i added a note about where this line of thought came from... if that helps. another way of looking at it is- how much hardship can writing bring about for the writer?

    i am an intensely curious person who wants to figure out life, the universe and everything, hence i make stupid threads and stupid posts like these. :)
     
  12. Talako
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    Talako Member

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    I realize that this is trivial, but Socrates did not write. Plato did. Socrates died because of his ideas.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there is actually an example of writers having suffered merely for being writers. When Pol Pot seized power in Cambodia, he systematically persecuted and killed off intellectuals, as they were a potential threat to his new regime. There must have been a lot of people being killed merely for being writers.
     
  14. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    ladies and gentlemen, i believe we have a winner.
     
  15. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    That's rather the camp I myself tend to fall into. Writing is the thing I love more than anything else, and for that very reason it's also the same thing that hurts me the most, simply because the people around me don't really love it nearly as much as I do. It's frustrating and painful. And very lonely.

    I think this probably isn't unique to writers but to anyone who dearly loves a profession or pastime--or loves anything, for that matter. Pain and frustration tend to come hand-in-hand with things we love. It's just that there's such a romantic image of the "tortured writer/artist" that these professions tend to get the most attention in terms of suffering for one's love.

    Writers don't need others persecuting them for what they do; I'm sure many of them persecute themselves badly enough.

    Anyway, I'm blathering, and probably have no clue what I'm blathering about, so I guess I'm done.
     
  16. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    One of my favourite authors immediately springs to mind in answer to this question - Zhang Xian Liang. His book Getting Used to Dying is largely (though not entirely) an autobiographical novel which details a life subject to constant persecution, imprisonment and death sentences, and the resulting psychosis makes up a large part of the novel.

    Rather than continue to explain in my own words, I'd like to share two excerpts - one from the introduction to the book by translator Martha Avery, and the other an excerpt from the book itself - from the chapter entitled Words, in which he talks about having to destroy many of his writings for fear of further punishment etc.

    Intro:
    There is a term in Chinese which means 'to be made to accompany to the execution ground'. It is common enough to be included in most Chinese dictionaries. The term refers to a person who is taken to the execution ground, believing that he is going to be killed. As people around him are executed by gunfire, he is left alive.
    Zhang describes this experience, which forms the central theme of Getting Used to Dying..... Zhang adds, 'Although the gun may never have been fired, the bullet of fear and oppression has been lodged inside the brain. Every intellectual in China lives with this kind of bullet in his brain.'

    Words:
    So many words, written with his own hands, had been torn up by those hands. Some had been buried in paddy fields, others had been burned, still others had been shredded and thrown into the latrine. If words had souls, the whole sky would be dancing by now, whirling with little stars like a cloud of mayflies. Each little star would be transparent and able to cry out.

    I can honestly say that after reading that book, my entire perspective on the value and gravity of words - particularly the written word - was altered significantly.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i knew someone would catch that!... thought of changing it before posting, but then just let it slide, for the heck of it... glad to see somebody here is on the ball... bravo, talako!
     
  18. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    thanks, gone wishing, for that excellent contribution.

    my heart (and head) goes out to those people in china who choose to do the thing that is ultimately best for their society even though it may mean the loss of their life and very often cruelty perpetrated against their family. what an incredibly grueling choice to have to make for a person of conscience.

    i'm lucky to have a book called "wild swans" which documents the lives and times of three generations of women in communist china. it's sort of amy tan squared. the routine suffering and pressure to conform that so many people faced in china is mind-boggling for a westerner like me. as you talked about, it was even worse for writers and original thinkers, of course. my biggest conclusion after reading that book probably was how much of a self-serving, self-important, delusional little thug mao tse-tung was and how much suffering he caused for his people and how much his legacy goes on causing problems for china.
     
  19. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I have read Wild Swans, and indeed, many other novels that get classified as 'Chinese gulag' literature, but Zhang's writing is intense, and once I had started reading Getting Used To Dying, I couldn't stop. (Amongst his other novels is Half of Man is Woman - again it is semi-autobiographical and of the two, I think it is the only one still in print).
    Needless to say, his work is banned in China.

    Just while I'm on this particular topic, I'd like to make mention of another favourite book of mine - Anchee Min's autobiography Red Azalea. That book fascinates me, because it speaks to one of the main things that I find alarming about the communist regime in China, and in particular, the culural revolution - however, I will refrain from expounding my personal thoughts on that veritable mine field. ;) I will just say that the book fascinates me so because the author attempted several times to write her biography in her native Mandarin, only to fail. Yet when she learnt English, she found a new freedom of expression in the different language and was finally able to write her story the way she needed to.
     
  20. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    to throw a cliché around, that is fascinating. sort of like a canadian who needs to learn inuit in order to properly talk about snow... or something. :p
     

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