A friend of mine asked me a curious question. It was curious, for two reasons, one, we were in our favorite watering hole and two, why would he think such a thing?
“Are most writers alcoholics?”
“What makes you ask that?”
“Well Dave, you are a writer and I’d like to become one and yesterday someone said to me if I become a writer there’s a chance I will be an alcoholic!”
I smiled and said, “Well, you know I like my wine with my meals but I am far from an alcoholic.”
“Some famous writers were alcoholics, such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Williams,” said my friend.
“Granted, some writers think that ideas flow better with a drink while writing, it also relieves the writer’s tension. But that is not what makes a writer!”
“Okay then, here’s another question for you. What are writers like?”
“That’s a better question and for the answer we will have to delve into the writer’s character.”
My friend had a pensive look on his face.
“I’ve heard a lot about “writer’s temperament”. What’s that?”
“I can see we’re going to have quite a discussion here, lets have another drink. Bartender, two more old fashions, please.”
“There are a lot of myths attached to writer’s temperament, like alcoholism and moods. But in reality a writer is a person who is more versatile, more sympathetic and more studious than the ordinary person. They don’t pay much attention to the ideas of the crowd. They amuse themselves in solitude!”
“That’s interesting, but what about the despair of the writer? It’s not all glamour, is it?”
“No, far from it,” I laughed.
“I like to daydream about stories,” said my friend.
“That’s okay, it’s part of the writing process but then you have to turn the dream into reality.”
“There’s a lot of doubt and worry attached to writing, isn’t there?”
“There are times while worrying about my story, I have lots of reasons to doubt and not one for self-confidence. But that’s also part of the writer’s lot, a period of despair!”
“Someone told me a writer is two people in one. What’s that all about?”
“The two people are the “unconscious” and the “conscious”. They are the mental functions of the whole writer. The unconscious provides the rising story, types of characters, scenes and emotional responses. Then in the conscious it is scrutinized and polished and sent back to the unconscious for the final combination of components to form the whole. Then it signals the conscious the work has been done and finally the actual writing of the story begins!”
“Boy, I never knew so much goes on in the creative mind.”
“Yes, you have to learn to be your own best friend and your own severest critic.”
“I’ve also been told that writers have to be original. But others say, there’s no such thing as pure originality because every story has been done! So, how can we be original?”
“Good question, since there are only 36 dramatic situations or plots, so how do we get many, many different stories from those 36? That’s where your originality comes into play. It’s how you present them!”
“What do you mean?” said my wan-a-be writer friend.
“The one contribution we writers can make to the vast pool of knowledge, is how the world looks to us through our stories.”
“Oh, I get it, sort of a personal judicious selection of our views.”
“Hey, right on! Now, out of about seven billion people worldwide, YOU ARE UNIQUE. Isn’t that food for thought?”
“It makes you feel special.”
“Right, no one has exactly your background, your experience, or grew up like you did, or faces the world with the exact ideas that you have!”
My writer friend smiled and said, “So, if I write a story, it is told through my eyes. Then I have a piece of original work.”
“How your story unfolds is unique to you, it’s your character showing through your work, it’s your original point of view.”
My friend pondered that for a moment.
I spoke up, “Lets have an example: Ten people were asked to write for ten minutes expanding this sentence. “A boy was so upset by his parent’s divorce that it tinged his whole life mentally and emotionally.”
The ten people came up ten completely different story versions. Each person saw the situation in a personal light and created a different story!”
“I get it, we all see situations from different angles because we are looking at things through OUR eyes, hence the originality!”
“What is the basic thing we need to write good?”
“Well, we must learn and grow. We need strong beliefs, convictions and opinions because they are the basis of our writing. All our writing is about persuasion. We are trying to persuade our reader to see the world with our eyes, to agree that our story is either tragic or comedic. So, we need to know what our beliefs and convictions are on the major problems of life.”
“Can you put all this information in a nut shell?”
“The writer knows there are times when he must have solitude, time to daydream and time to sit idle. Then the time for silence is gone and you have reached the moment when you must write to exercise the vision!”
“Great, I can’t wait to start writing!”
“And finally remember:
ADAM WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHO COULD SAY SOMETHING THAT WAS TRULY ORIGINAL!