Please, Write Something That Will Matter

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

There’s a helluva lot of writing out there. There’s blogs like this one, written by people in their pajamas sitting on folding chairs in their basements. There’s the supposed “classics”, there’s children’s books filled with subliminal messages of socialization, there’s books no one can really understand that are therefore classified as literary works of art. There are poorly written books written by celebrities and very angry radio talk show hosts.¬†Something for everyone. More accessible. More opportunities to sell, more markets. Nothing wrong with a whole lot of books, some good, some bad, right?

There’s something to this argument. However, something disturbs me about the large volume of writing we are now greeted with in every Barnes and Noble, or on our Kindles. It seems to send the message that anyone can write, that it’s not a very difficult thing to do, and that having a passion for writing is not really necessary. (Style and a solid understanding of language are also negligible.) Want to write about the meaning of life? Go for it. How about sex or wild partying stories? Sure, why not?

I understand that writing is a business, as with anything. Fifty Shades of Gray will sell. So will a book by Glen Beck or Chelsea Handler. But I can’t help but feel like a sacred space has been invaded, and that therefore the value of truly great writers diminished. You’re a writer? Who cares? Everyone whose reached a certain level of success in their profession writes a book, be they engineers, basketball players or Broadway legends. Right? Just another promotion tool, or a final word before heading into retirement.

I’m not suggesting that I believe writing be reserved for “elites” or “academics,” a sort of closed profession reserved for only socially-deemed intellectuals. But I do believe writers should write because they want to say something, because they believe that what they want to say will have an effect on people. An effect that inspires change or thought. Not necessarily huge changes, but small ones, like having a reader catch a sudden glimpse of their true self. Writing should break through the haze we all live in, so that for a moment a person sees something new, or something they forgot was there.

In essence, those who wish to write ought to write about something that will matter. We don’t write simply to vent our frustrations or out of our own need for completeness. The purpose is bigger than that. It involves your audience. It involves the person turning the page.

So whatever it is you’re writing, look at it critically. Ask yourself that hard question. So what? So what if Bob and Jack are fighting zombies? What does it mean? What does it say?

Because it’s your job to know those answers.

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