ColGlobe At The Spoof

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing: The Secret Society

Let's talk about me for a minute. ~ Alan Parsons Project

I write for a living. Whoop-de-do. Another writer who can't seem to put together a best-seller, lurking a little to the limbo side of being an author. It is not the fact that I put together words which makes me a member of that elite group, but more a factor of the words I am paid to weave. I write product reviews and how-to articles for the most part. I teach you how things are done the right way, and why you should buy this product instead of that one. It is not a glitzy occupation on the surface.

But underneath, I have my fingers on the very wheels of capitalistic society. With a few clicks of my mouse and several tens of thousands of key presses, I tell you what you want, and convince you of what you don't want. I mix facts and fantasy in a way that makes it difficult to separate the two, and dish it out a few hundred words at a time, not as the gospel truth, but as something more basic. I give people without confidence the desire to make something of themselves, and encourage people who will never use them to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment that is destined to collect dust and do little else.

That is how I am a member of that select group. Without ever seeing it happening, I somehow went from being one of us, to being part of the mystical them who makes the rules and decides the fads. And I do it off the top of my head, often in the very wee hours of the night.

Who else is a member of this elite club? I have no idea. I have talked to a few of us, but most of those I have talked to really aren't moving and shaking anything except their own egos. And the ones who are helping to shape what society sees.. they don't realize it any more than I did for a the first year. We are such a top-secret organization that we don't even know who the other members are. Less than 1% of us even realize what it is we are doing.

I read a book some years back by a man named Clive Barker. If you want to read some quality storytelling, Mr. barker is one of the best. He doesn't seem to know the difference between the words procrastinate and prevaricate ( an error that I have noticed in several of his books), but other than that one flaw, I have found very little in his tales that is mediocre, and nothing that is poorly told. But I brought him up to present an example.

The book in question is titled, The Great and Secret Show, and centers around the fantastical notion that the dead letters office of the post office contains an intricate collection of conversations and hopeless searches for some corner of reality that lies somehow just beyond comprehension. The story becomes much more fantastical as it unfolds, but this basic notion gave me reason to stop and ponder, and my conclusion is that the writers of the world are only another facet of that great and secret show. We do not exist in some alternate reality, but we are in the business of creating them on a regular basis for others. We add the scent of lemons on a summer afternoon, and sprinkle a light mist of pollen on the branches of trees on spring mornings. We define the way a particular dog barks, and set words to the music that soothes the heart of savage beasts.

Writers are not creatures of other dimensions, or demi-gods of this one, as the characters in that book, but we are the closest thing to it that exists in the world, so far as even "they" know. Without us, your world would be less colorful, your meals would be less tasty, and everything you do would have less meaning. Those things are defined by people like me. We don't even have to know anything about them in order to make them real, we simply imagine them into existence, and pour them on a cold screen where they congeal into something that almost looks like the real thing.

I cannot speak for other writers, but I have a very strong suspicion that those of us who belong to the club write, not because we want to, but because we somehow have to. We write for the same reason most people eat, or sleep or breathe.. we do it because we have no choice. Myself, I can set down my pen or close OpenOffice any time I want to, but I can't walk awy from it. Somehwere farther along the path, I will return to gluing together random words. If I don't write, something inside me becomes constipated, and I find myself having more and more trouble keeping fresh thoughts flowing, because I have not set others to rest. Ghosts of concepts wake me up from a sound sleep, and tell me that I have something I need to do. I write for the same reason a lizard catches flies.. because it is what I exist to do. And that is the qualification that I think defines our special club.. people who don't write from choice, but from necessity.

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