Do Writers Alienate Themselves?

Yes, do writers alienate themselves? Let’s think. I opened up a post. It was one of the much discussed “why do you write” posts which all writing blogs ask. It’s obligatory, like some sort of blogging coming of age ritual for anyone calling themselves an author here. Now, looking at the responses, I just wanted to cringe. Honestly. The general gist of it was the usual – that writing is a hobby, that they enjoy creating characters, telling stories and the like. That’s fine, that does nothing. What struck me though were the comments that talked about writing in a frankly unrealistic way.

That writing is a ‘calling’ that cannot be ignored.

Really? A slight exaggeration.

Writing being some sort of necessity in life that one cannot do without.

Oh come on, it’s no essential process required to sustain life.

Writers would rather lose limbs than not be able to equate concepts to words.

We’re getting into the more ridiculous responses here.

That writer’s view the world from heights, and that they write in order to breathe.

I’ll deploy my absolute favourite all-time quote that for me sums up both the vanity and stupidity writers can conjure up.

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world – Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Dream on Percy, dream on.

Please – but the best is yet to come.

People who criticize and belittle our “hobby” simply fear our independence. They are jealous of our ability to break away from the mould that so obviously ensnares them.

I’m not making this up. I’ve been watching posts like these, cringing and wanting to further distance myself from being identified as a writer. Let’s take a time out here. It’s fine to be passionate about your hobby. Really. I admit that some days I feel like I’ve wasted time if I haven’t written anything. Some days I feel like something was missing if I didn’t write. But I’ve also had many days where I’ve written nothing and felt nothing of it. There are days where I cannot care to write even a single word. That’s the reality of it – and every writer will be the same. We have a lot of days where it just feelings like struggling neck high up in mud. Still, I just laugh at life and continue – it’s no matter. You take each day as it comes.

I mean, come on. Writer’s having to write out of some sort of necessity? That’s peeling back the hyperbole. At the end of the day, I think this just makes writers sound deluded and vain. I think the whole issue is that the entity that is “writing” has a huge inferiority complex hanging over it. The fear is that at the end of the day, someone could call a writer out on doing something useless. Writing is after all fiction – it is logically useless. So the response is to come up with such reasons like the ones above in order to raise writing above what it is and to some sort of divine level. In reality, storytelling is just telling stories – and we really shouldn’t hide from that. People like stories, so that’s good enough reason to write them. Simple. Besides, the strength of passion that conjures up such quotes means that such individuals get enough enjoyment out of it to continue despite what others might say.

But here is the question I am asking you: what happens when someone who isn’t a writer reads this sort of thing? It all  just sounds so very ludicrous. Inane. Utterly deluded. At the end of the day, what is writing, really? Just telling a story – which anyone can do and learn to do better. My fear is that it does nothing to help writers. It just makes them sound like they are wasting time writing fiction. I think it puts of people who aren’t writers, discourages those who are learning, and makes writers sound like a bunch of overly-dramatic want-to-be Shakepeares.

So, if you are a writer, I want to hear your thoughts on this matter. If you are inclined to think such lofty things about writing, I want to hear from you too.


4 thoughts on “Do Writers Alienate Themselves?

  1. I am TRYING to be a writer, and aren’t we all? When I hear some of the inane comments, as exemplified above, I feel like I might be missing some essential spiritual element. So, thank you for expressing what I have thought all along as a teacher and a writer.

    1. Thanks for replying – I was beginning to think that I was alone in thinking this! But yes, we’re all trying to be writers anyway, like you said. I don’t think we’ll ever stop having to either. And yes, writers who exaggerate do make it sound like it’s some intensely spiritual process that if you don’t experience, you’re not a writer or a passionate one at that, when that’s not the case.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Well , yes, it is kind of ridiculous, but anything that makes me sound like a big-shot, I’m all for, whether it’s fake or not. Far from questioning it, I find many people who aren’t writers are over-respectful of us and eat up the melodramatic writing hype you feel so queasy about. They misguidedly think we’re gods. And you know what? It probably helps sell books. Why not let ’em?

    1. True, when you tell people you’ve written a book their response is a variant of “that’s great, I could never do that”. Still, I guess I’d prefer to be judged on the merit of what I’ve written, rather than be praised (or praise myself) for conforming or being a prescribed notion of being a writer. If it sell books, I think it would be best to be careful. What’s one person’s wine is another’s poison, and you could harm yourself if you big yourself up only to fall because your works don’t live up to your claims.

      One a side note, being British means it is impossible for me to speak positively about my achievements – self deprecation is the course of the day. XD

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you think! It’s been interesting.

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