1. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing as an act of love?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Forkfoot, Jun 21, 2009.

    I haven't written anything lately, but I've been thinking about writing a lot. A thought occurred to me yesterday that I'm still trying to flesh out, so I hope I don't look too silly or inarticulate when I say this. It's probably been said before about writing and other art forms, but I've never heard it anywhere before and I'd really like to share it, so here it is:

    I'm wondering if, maybe, the best place a writer can possibly come from, as far as their motivation for putting pen to paper is concerned, is to look at their work as a gift to the world, a totally gratuitous act of love. To just write from the desire to birth something into the world that is earnest, from the bottom of your heart, like a lover saying “Here is something beautiful I’ve made for you!” Not because he hopes to gain anything from it, but because he loves her. I know a guy whose wife was in a coma (she‘s dead now), but he loved her so much he was constantly at her bedside doing little things for her and telling her how much he loved her. He gained nothing from this; it was a completely unnecessary act of love. I think that’s a good example of what I’m getting at here.

    If one can approach their art in this way, then it shouldn’t matter what the critics say. If they like it, great! Then they’re one of the ones you wrote it for. You gave them something and it improved their lives in some way. If not, then that’s fine, too; you already got everything you wanted, just by giving them something from your heart in a pure spirit.

    I think that’s how I’m going to approach this whole writing thing from now on. I’m just going to try and birth beautiful things into the world because I love the world, and people can publish it, praise it, throw it in the garbage or ignore it entirely. If there is constructive criticism, then cool, that will make me better at something I love. But my satisfaction will come from the giving, and I believe my writing will be better for this.

    Well, yeah. That’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Sinbad
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    Sinbad Banned

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    I think Ray Bradbury summed up the art of writing the best when he said, "You must love what you do if you want to be a writer." I would assume that people write for many different reasons, but unless you love what you do, you're not going to want to write.

    I tend to suffer from not enjoying the act of writing when I'm writing something I don't care about. So if I become bored with something I'm writing, I'll move onto something else. Remember, it's supposed to be enjoyable, not work.

    There are so many things that one can write, that it would be quite a task to become bored with the act of writing itself, unless you just have no interest in writing. One doesn't always have to write literature, and I think this is a problem that many people seem to believe. They think they must write anything that is science fiction or fantasy or mystery related, and they don't have to. One can write essays, philosophy; one can write about their observations of nature and life (think Walden, which is excellent), politics, anything.

    So, this goes out to everyone here: don't think that you have to write literature only, branch out a bit. I'd also urge that many don't attempt to pigeon-hole themselves into a particular genre, which I see all the time. If you're writing fantasy, make the attempt at writing a mystery story or science fiction, but ultimately write what you love. And if it is only science fiction you like to write, then write that. Just keep writing and doing what you love. Au revoir.
     
  3. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I view my writing as my gift to the world; absolutely. I am going to die one day, hell, maybe one day soon. I want to leave something beautiful behind. I want to try and capture the way I see things and share it with someone else. I don't think it's a selfless act though, because nothing brings me greater joy than writing. But yes, it's an act of love, no doubt. :)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since i gave up writing for a living and now write philosophical essays and what i call 'philosetry,' i would have to agree that my writing is a 'gift to the world'... but, though it's definitely 'an act of love,' it's not to leave something 'beautiful' behind...

    it's more to leave some 'truth' behind, presenting an unvarnished view of the human race to its members, hoping it may inspire some to 'clean up their act'...

    and, like starseed, i can't consider it totally 'selfless' since writing has always been a joy for me, never a chore...

    [in re my own writing, that is... not the writing i do while mentoring/helping aspiring writers, which can be somewhat of a 'chore' on occasion... though it's never an onerous one, as it does feel good to help someone else]
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I agree with you that there are some very close parallels between the act of writing and the act of loving. Both, I think, reflect a passion to connect in some way with someone beyond yourself and, in that respect, it's not entirely selfless--and needn't be, in my mind. The passion to improve one's self or one's writing, when it actually succeeds in some way serves to validate the effort. But, the real fascination, for me, will always lie in the unfolding journey itself.
     
  6. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, exactly; I think a big part of this is that it's more important to find happiness as a writer than success. I've probably always known that, but have had trouble figuring out a philosophy from which to concretely approach it. And, like jazz musicians, if you're obviously enjoying what you're doing, the audience will probably enjoy themselves more, too.

    I don't think I'd call it 'selfless' either. Selflessness is, like, throwing yourself on a grenade for your comrades, or waking up from a dead sleep to get your wife a drink of water even though she's bloody well capable of getting it herself. It's doing something you probably wouldn't want to do under normal circumstances, but you choose to put the others' needs before your own. What I'm talking about is like a gratuitous phone call in the middle of the day, just calling your love to tell them you love them. Not selfless, because it's what you want to do anyway, and whether the beloved gets as much out of it as the lover is almost beside the point.

    I think a second part to all this that I didn't get at clearly is that, for me, once a piece is completed, it is necessary to let it go. Once it has been (I apologize for the over-use of this phrase, but it popped into my head the other day and I'm stuck on it) birthed into the world, the writer's job is finished, and it's time to move on to something else. It can still be shown to agents and publishers and whatnot, but it should be in a spirit of total detachment, because, as I said before, the joy came in its entirety from the giving of the gift. A lover doesn't fret over what the beloved will do with the last kiss that he blew, he just blows another.
     
  7. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I think it really depends on what someone wants to achieve... some people write very good works as an act of vengeance or vendetta. Many authors write to push their own moral issues. Some are misogynists or racists. The point, though, is that they pour their passion into what they are doing.

    When I was at the bookstore, I heard some guy with a big head talking about his published works. He believed that you could only write when you're angry, and so he only wrote when he was angry at a woman. I'm guessing his work came out sloppy and misogynistic, which is why it didn't sell.

    Anyone who creates a story must do it with a purpose. Anne Rice created Interview with the Vampire expressly to show the evil people as "human" with suffering and problems of their own. Even though Loui is responsible for killing hundreds of people you still feel sorry for him.

    I have to also assume that some people write simply for the paycheck.
     
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  8. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I can easily relate to that, myself. I have heard lots of writers, though, who are strongly attached to their published work--moreso, they claim, than to the work they're currently writing. I rarely think about my own published work at all (and there isn't very much of it). I don't think of those stories as belonging to me anymore, but to readers who think about (or ignore) them in ways I'll probably never even know. Like those little gifts and gestures you mention, they've probably long since disappeared into the night. But it was their creation and the illusion that someone could possibly enjoy them, which gave me pleasure in writing them.

    I have a feeling that's different for different writers, maybe. I suspect we have that variety to thank for the grand scope of fiction that's available to us to read, enjoy, argue about, and to learn from.
     
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