Between reading the esteemed Crapometer over at Miss Snark, the literary agent homestead and reading several correspondence emails from a friend facing a (poetry) critique firing squad, I feel inclined to toss forth my thoughts about a few items here.
Although it hurt my compassionate side, the crapometer was a lesson in quantity vs. quality vs. potential vs. crap vs. the ultimate fish pond competition. A parade of idea's marched across her screen some 682 times from the corridors of other would be writers.
Now, I fish, and here's a fact. If too many fish attempt to swim in a small body of water, they deplete the oxygen from the water, they devour the nutrients found in the undergrowth and ultimately, only the strong survive such conditions. I've realized, writing a book is very much like trying to jump into an exclusive pond. If far too many 'would be' fishies continue to jump into said pond, it becomes unhealthy and diluted by the very thing we call potential.
I can visualize how the hierarchy, those who control and manage the population (agents, publishers, editors, experts) , must continue, without sleep, without rest, to smack environment eroding fishies right back out of the pond they keep disturbing with potential ambition. I see it as a frustrating and nearly impossible feat of division. Flip away 20 potentials with bad swimming techniques and ambition (writing) and risk flipping away one J.K. Rowling because your blinded by the previous 19 rejections of fin-less swimmers.
I wrote my friend and still believe as such, that unlike painters or other artists, who have a multitude of tools at their disposal to create and build. We, the writers, have but one solitary tool. Words. Words, upon words, upon stacking and arranging, it all rests firmly with words. Every person in this word is gifted the tool of words. No matter the language, no matter the day and age or location, words are at our disposal, our mercy and our imagination. Everyone has the potential, anyone could ignite the ambition. Anyone and everyone has the opportunity to sit down and write.
The question becomes for me, is who is destined to take it beyond the level of personal enjoyment? Where does the fine line between recreation writing and potential writing for the masses evolve? Is it talent? Is it natural writing ability? Is it understanding the language better then others? Is it simply the tenacity to sit and scratch out 100,000 words and immediately start trying acrobatic moves into the exclusive fish pond? What spurs one person to pine for the exclusive pond over say, the person who writes regularly just because they can?
I understand everyone wishes to leave their mark on this world. There are millions of us (myself included) who must write. We write because the urge won't shut the hell up. I can't put masking tape over the loud voice within me and I certainly can't stop the march of constant idea's that materialize in my mind daily. I do what I must, write them all down.
However, I am not exactly educated in the art of writing. I have not taken classes, nor would I be able to quickly identify all verbs, nouns, adjectives, proper sentence structure, grammar, and all the other hoopla that has attached it's tentacles to the form of writing well. I'm not even entirely interested in taking my writing to a technical level that would muster praise from experts in writing format and sentence structure. I have the basics, they work for me. Plain and simple, either the sentence reads like crap or it doesn't.
I concede it is up to the critics and experts to wave their hand of opinion and judgment to keep all us little fishies in line, in the correct ponds. What I continue to hold tenaciously is my personal voice, originality if I may, and I strongly encourage those I correspond with to do the same. Adjustments can be made......however changing an entire tone, an entire sentence, an entire meaning based on a critic......thats a reward vs. loss game. Ultimately, whats more important to a writer?
Does this make me a dilettante? Perhaps. Does this make me avant-garde? Possible. Does it make me a stubborn soul who will do as she damn well pleases? Likely. Do these designations make one slice of difference to me? Not at this time. I am a solitary fish, basking in her own personal pond, swimming her own natural strokes. I rise to the surface from time to time to watch the other fish playing.
A time will come. I will also be clutching a manuscript between tiny little fins, attempting a head first dive into the exclusive pond. If some big fish smacks me right back into my own pond over grammar, or too many uses of adjectives, I'll listen and I'll adjust if I feel right about it. I learn daily, I study at my own pace and I adjust when I feel the natural tones of my writing has gone off canter.
To my friend who's writing was compared to Bauldelair, I say thats a compliment. Carry on.....study.......write and understand your originality is priceless in my humble opinion. When all else fails, fight and pull a Cummings ~ flip them off~~
Charles Bauldelaire wrote: ( Beauty)
"I hate all movements that disturb my prose,
I smile not ever, neither do I weep.
Before my monumental attitudes,
That breathe a soul into plastic arts,
My poets pray in austere studious moods"