Tags:
  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838

    Do you want to be a profound writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by deadrats, Feb 27, 2020.

    I want to be a profound writer. I really do. I want to say something important that means something. I want it to be my calling to make great contributions to the literary world. This isn't about being famous. It's about writing the right thing. Think about those things you read that changed the way you think even if just for a moment but in turn change who you are a little. Reading has had that effect on me.

    I write feverishly and I publish somewhat regularly. I think my goal is to be profound. Does all this sound silly? I'm a pretty prolific writer. And don't judge me if I lie in bed several days a week just reading. My soul needs it. And there are certain works that I must at times return to an reread. I start to memorize certain massages almost by accident. If no one is home, I will read aloud.

    I'm not even sure how great you really have to be to be a profound writer. I think you have to be good enough to get into the right publications or still in with the right publisher so what you write really gets out there. The most profound novel I ever read I got for $3.99 in the remainders section of a local bookstore. I've since read everything that author has written, I'm pretty sure. I believe her writing is important. There are essayist, short story writers and poets I all find profound. I read a lot in the contemporary literary scene.

    I want the reason I'm a writer to be because I'm supposed to be a writer. Do any of you feel this way? Like you desperately want this to be your calling? This both pushes me and pressures me. Still, I procrastinate, but I usually do that my writing something or working on a different piece of writing instead of whatever I should really me focusing on. But I do really try. I'm about to turn something over to an editor and I'm pretty nervous even though this should be a pretty much done deal. But whatever about that. I want to believe I'm doing this for a reason. Do you want to be a profound writer? Maybe you already are?
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
    OB2611, jannert, Xoic and 2 others like this.
  2. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    2,253
    Likes Received:
    5,431
    I guess my question is what do you consider literary? Because if we go by the old standards of literariness, you might not meet them. I'm not saying you personally, just in general.

    I don't know that I'd want to be considered profound because then it becomes the expectation that I produce nothing but profundity. And sometimes I just want to swear a lot in my work.

    I want to create memorable stories more than ones with an overarching theme and moral lesson in them.

    So, I guess my follow up question would be what's truly literary to you and how will you go about achieving that literariness?
     
    jannert, deadrats and Moon like this.
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838
    You get it. It's this right here. A little success can play some mind games on you. I wonder how I said something great. Was it great? Because published deoesn't necessarily mean the same thing? I'm having a hard time letting things go even when they are expected by editors. I've put so much into this, and now I question everything?

    I don't think it matters so much literary or genre. I think the way I'm feeling could be true whatever the scene is. I feel like I'm not even sure I'm that good even if a few times I might have been accidentally great. And I feel like I've been trying to say something important since I started writing. I think for me that was the whole point.

    Maybe I'm having some sort of internal crisis of sorts...
     
  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    17,919
    Likes Received:
    27,156
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I think I look at it in less exacts.
    If someone gains something beyond entertainment
    from a story I have writ, then that would be great.
    I don't think I would ever try to sway someone to
    some greater meaning hidden in a narrative. Just
    let them get what they want from it.

    Never know what someone might find hidden in
    the oddest recesses of a book. :)
     
    jannert likes this.
  5. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    9,457
    Likes Received:
    9,708
    Location:
    England
    No.

    That's not meant to sound flippant, but it is my chose.
     
    Lifeline, marshipan and Cave Troll like this.
  6. jim onion

    jim onion New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,913
    Likes Received:
    3,636
    What's profound to somebody will be banal to another. Some people want the big picture, some people want the little things. It's all profound and none of it. I strive for profundity a lot of times, sure, but I can't guarantee the outcome. Trying to force that level of control will burn me out real quick.

    I'd like to personally be excited about what I write, to write honestly, and do it well by publishable standards. If I don't get some level of excitement or at least *catharsis* out of it, if I feel like I'm not being "real", then there's some big issues. Meeting publishable standards is tertiary and varies.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  7. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2020
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    369
    I can't say I intend to write anything profound, (I doubt I'm wise enough to have anything profound to say) but I would like to write stories that affect the reader. Stories that stick with people. Simple goals, but hard to reach.
     
    Xoic likes this.
  8. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,428
    Likes Received:
    2,809
    Currently Reading::
    "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub
    I understand what you mean. I read genre and lit fic, and I love it when I find a book that crosses those boundaries. Well, it has to do it and succeed. It has to be effortless and inevitable.

    There was a terrible zombie book once mentioned on this board that was trying hard to be lit fic. I don't know, I think maybe a lit fic author was writing genre? I wish I could remember the title. I previewed it on Amazon and it was just terrible.

    Palahniuk's new writing book talks about these profound bits. He calls it "big voice" vs "little voice." The little voice explains the immediate, the sensory. The big voice falls back to the narrator, but it's not just descriptive tells. It soars up above the story and brings other elements into it.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838
    I don't think there has to be ant hidden meaning for a work to be profound. But I do want to do more than entertain. I want to contribute to the literary landscape of today in a meaningful way. I guess we all want to be important in some way. I feel like my writing is important a handful of times a year, but even that's short lived. And than did it mean any thing? I want to think I'm not a writer by accident. I'm just questioning myself and my work a lot lately to the point that it's making me freeze up. This isn't something I've really gone through before. But my hesitation is causing me to miss out on some things. That is if my writing holds up... if I can say anything important... I do want to be profound.

    I know I can write a story, an essay, a poem or whatever. I've spent a lifetime learning how to write. Now, I'm thinking more about what I write and what I should right. This isn't about pleasing others. This is about really putting something on the page that says exactly what I want it to. Why is that such a scary thought?
     
    jannert and Cave Troll like this.
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838
    We can say everything is subjective, but there's usually somewhat of a concuss when we are talking about profound writing and works of literature and even what is publishable quality. That's not the discussion I want to have. And I can feel the burnout already. I don't know how to do again what I've already done. And that's assuming I actually did something to start with. Maybe it just set me up to do something great. Am I set up for failure? I don't mean failure like getting rejected or no sales. I more mean I'm not even sure what I'm really made of when it comes to being a writer.

    I'm almost nervous to actually do anything. I'm still writing but not always working on what I should be. I feels like I'm sabotaging myself and I don't know what to do. IDK I just wish my focus was stronger and the right words were coming easier. I want all this to mean something because if it doesn't I'm not sure how much I'm really left with.
     
    jannert and jim onion like this.
  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838
    LOL (or maybe no LOL) That probably means you already are. ;)
     
  12. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    9,457
    Likes Received:
    9,708
    Location:
    England
    Well I'll take that as a compliment, but I reckon I'm probably about as profound as a cabbage. I'm not even sure I could give you an accurate definition of the word.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  13. jim onion

    jim onion New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,913
    Likes Received:
    3,636
    I hear you. My point was rather one about control; I can't control what others think is profound. Even something in which there's general consensus on its profundity.

    If I'm writing about something profound, I won't do it any justice if I don't have my heart in it.

    I can't help you with self-sabotage or "not working on what I should be". I tell myself "this is what I should be working on" but it doesn't matter; my mind and body either give up, or I give into the temptation of getting wasted in my room playing video games. And the few times I do manage to sit down and get something significant written, I end up hating it. Not just hating what I've written, but thoroughly disliking the entire experience, which only serves to build negative feelings about the act of writing.

    With school, work, writing for the university newspaper, I can't find the time, energy, or enjoyment for writing in my spare time. Rather than a welcome escape or release, it feels like a chore—something I'm forcing myself to crunch into a couple random hours of free time. I can force myself to do chores or necessary tasks because there not really any high expectations and they simply *need* to get done.

    Technically, all the ideas I have do not *need* to be done. I really want to get them done, and I might believe that they could be of some benefit to others if I could only get it right. But ultimately I'm taking a creative process, a cathartic process, something that on a rare occasion is dare-I-say "fun", and turning it into burden.

    Maybe it will change one day, but currently I'm still at the stage where my most productive writing happens unplanned and spontaneously.

    I would find advice from somebody who's already at, or been at, the place where you want to be! Outside of these final two sentences here, it'd be unwise to seek advice from me about this.

    You can do this.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  14. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,428
    Likes Received:
    2,809
    Currently Reading::
    "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub
    Hey, I think I figured out that "profound" zombie book. Now I think it was someone on this board who actually read it and pointed it out as an example of poor form. I've only read the Amazon preview. My god, it's terrible. I really want to read it all. I want to suffer. I think it might make me a better righter (writer, see?). Avoiding excess is a necessary skill.

    I think the book in question is "Zone One" by Colson Whitehead. I've only read one other book by him, "The Underground Railroad," which . . . yeah. It's okay, but it's no "Beloved." ("The Confessions of Nat Turner" and the honorary awarded "Roots" were better Pulitzers too, as far as that theme goes.) At first I really liked Underground Railroad, but then there were so many deliberate anachronisms that the history fell apart. There wasn't much of a character arc (zero, actually) and the acts were compartmentalized. So, not my favorite Pulitzer, but it was well written on the sentence level. I didn't despise it. It just wasn't for me. (Actually, "Tinkers" was much worse.)

    Anyway, I've read the beginning of "Zone One" and it looks insanely ponderous. It's shooting for these soaring messages, but with zombies? It looks like it just ignores the zombies for the most part, and instead focuses on setting details and societal angst. I'll explain what it's like to read this in metaphor: You go to a playhouse and sit up front. On the stage, you see the most elaborate, detailed backdrop ever. You wait for a half hour, an hour, more, just studying this work, staring at it until you're bored senseless. And then the producer comes out and apologizes profusely. He doesn't have any actors and forgot to choose a play.

    I mean, literary fiction has things going on. They're usually pretty simple to name, but they're there. It's the reactions that are important, and yeah, the profound messages too. When those books are done well, to me at least, they're the best books there are.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
    Lifeline, Xoic and jim onion like this.
  15. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,428
    Likes Received:
    2,809
    Currently Reading::
    "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub
    Oh, an aside. The most profound genre work I've ever read actually is a zombie story: "The Good Husband," by Nathan Ballingrud. Absolutely astounding. I've never seen a piece accelerate through the profundities. They're hitting maybe one or two a page at first, and then by the end . . . ten a page? Ballingrud knocked it way out of the park. I'm just stunned this in the horror section. If you could somehow pull the fantastic elements out (I don't think it can easily be done), it could have been in the most prestigious magazine you can name.

    It's just a short story. Read it if you get a chance. Make sure you want to feel terrible for a week or two.
     
    jim onion likes this.
  16. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,674
    Likes Received:
    19,872
    Location:
    Scotland
    Strangely enough, no—although I'm sure it's a worthy goal, and many people appreciate self-consciously profound writers. I'm not anti-profundity, by the way. But I don't want to be aware of it while I'm reading.

    As a writer, I just want to tell stories that immerse people in another place and time, and give them characters and situations they won't forget. I want them to come out at the other end, feeling a bit disoriented when they realise they're not in that world any more. The readers will discover profundity, if the story leaves a strong impression on them.

    Once the story is over, the reader may well discover parallels to real life, and may learn from them. When they realise a certain character is JUST like somebody they know—and look what happened to THEM. Or a situation in a story is similar to what just happened, or what might be about to happen in real life. Or, no matter how hard you try, success is never guaranteed. And etc. This thematic recognition isn't necessarily a factor during the immersion period, however. It comes afterwards, when the reader reflects on what they've read.

    Immersion is what has kept ME reading all these years—fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, realistic modern fiction, even non-fiction. If profundity happens enroute, fair enough—but it's not my goal. My goal (as a writer) is to create an experience that feels real to my readers. If a story gives me that, it's got me hooked. Genre doesn't really matter to me. What matters is immersion.

    My best friend put it perfectly, when I got her to read Lord of the Rings, back in 1967. When she was done, she gave the books back to me, and I asked her what she'd thought of them. She paused for a few seconds, then said, mournfully, "...but ...there AREN'T any hobbits...!" That's the reaction I want. (Probably one of the reasons she's still my best friend! :) )

    Perhaps that's the factor that makes me prefer novels over short stories. Good short story writers can deliver immersion, but it's short-lived. I love the long haul. I'm one of those readers who was always attracted to 'big' books. You know, the ones that are too big to even get published these days. 80,000 to 100,000-word limits on novels? Don't make me laugh. Gimme the big ones. The 250,000-worders. If the story is well-written, that will keep me immersed in another world for a satisfyingly long time. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    4,838
    Forget being profound. I'm shit.
     
    Vaughan Quincey likes this.
  18. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2019
    Messages:
    895
    Likes Received:
    574
    I want people to think I'm profound, but I don't want to actually do any of the work to truly be profound.

    In other words, I want to be a comedy writer.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  19. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2020
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    440
    Location:
    Sweden
    Man, I just want to write stories about really awesome people fighting each other with magic swords and punching dragons in the face.

    I mean, I'm totally for putting my own philosophical musings, values and thoughts on the human condition into the mix as well. But mainly because I think that makes the stories better.
     
    Azuresun likes this.
  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    1,431
    Likes Received:
    1,397
    No, I just want to tell stories that terrify people. The ultimate goal of most of my writing is not to make the reader think, but to make the reader anxious. I certainly jab at the reader's psyche and make them consider uncomfortable viewpoints, but I don't consider it profound in any way.

    I also think that "profound" is a very subjective term, and even one that might change over time. For example, some may consider HP Lovecraft's work to be just racist horror no different than any other, but at the time, writing stories about plans and creatures beyond the human experience and understanding was quite profound. In a world largely dominated by the abrahamic view that humans are the top of the food chain and the god-given masters of the universe, he wrote stories where man is an insignificant insect in a greater universe that's beyond our understanding.
     
    Lifeline, marshipan and Cave Troll like this.
  21. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    950
    I honestly have no interest in being profound. I want to tell stories and have people enjoy reading them. That's it. I don't want to change the world. I just want to entertain a small segment of it.
     
    marshipan likes this.
  22. More

    More Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2019
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    163
    I have changed with age . When young , I was interested in a much wider range of things . I belive I had the intellect to understand anything . Sadly it was not actuly true . I have narrowed my interests , and many things I believed to be interesting , I now realise I don't fully understand and find boring . My only ambition now , as a writer , is to be interesting and entertaining .
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
  23. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Ex-Patriot Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    18,196
    Likes Received:
    34,561
    Location:
    Face down in the dirt
    Currently Reading::
    Telemachus Sneezed
    Nope. I mean, I wish I had the sort of stories in me that really made people sit back and think, but I took a look and they ain't there. I aspire to being the sort of author someone is happy to see a new book by when they're at the airport bookstore. The authors that I love to read are very different from the ones I read for inspiration and writerly education.
     
    Xoic and Lifeline like this.
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    20,976
    Likes Received:
    24,309
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    I think in general stories that set out to be profound tend to wind up pretentious instead, where as really profound stories just happen... for example when Tolstoy wrote "the master and man," I doubt he sat down and said 'hmm I must be profound today'
     
  25. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2017
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    231
    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    I want the reader to never look at the world in the same way. To explore the darkest forbidden parts of human psychology until creepy makes sense and normal feels wrong. Throw out the dogmas and make truths into lies. I want the reader to feel reborn in sick flesh from another world.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice