Friday, January 30, 2009
On barbaric YAWPS and other human writes
A writer died, and due to a bureaucratic snafu in the hereafter, she was to
be allowed to choose her own fate: heaven or hell for all eternity. Being
very shrewd for a dead person, she asked St. Peter for a tour of both.
The first stop was hell, where she saw rows and rows of writers sitting
chained to desks, in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licked the
writers' fingers as they tried to work; demons whipped their backs with
chains. Your typical hell scene.
"Wow, this is awful," said the writer, appalled. "Let's see some heaven."
In a moment, they were whisked to heaven and the writer saw rows and rows of
writers chained to desks, in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licked
the writers' fingers as they tried to work; demons whipped their backs with
chains. It looked and smelled even worse than hell.
"What gives, Pete?" the writer asked. "This is worse than hell!"
"Yes," St. Peter replied, "but here your work gets published."
Why do you write?
I write for a living. I write to think. My favorite quote about writing, in fact, is H.L. Mencken: "People can't write because they can't think." I edit, myself and others, because I love all writing and try to make it better whenever I can. Professionally, I write to inform and to educate. Personally, I write to inform, for laughs, to help people think and to try to persuade.
But I can't write fiction.
Above all, whether it's news, blogging or my scholarly history writing, I wtite for posterity. I've been blessed by the writing of countless writers who came before me. I hope I'm leaving something behind that future writers will find useful.
Oh, yeah. Then there's that whole barbaric YAWP thing.
Why do you write?
I am, however, a much better editor than I am a writer, and, like you, I don't (or can't) write fiction.
Why did I write. I was paid to write them, and to explain them and to defend them and to implement them.
Some of them were historical, some were travel logs, some were prophecy, some were social fiction.
Most contained some of my personal passion. Some got me criticized on editorial pages. Most got called a pack of lies and distortions. Many were received with a Ho Hum.
Why did I write?
My wife, my daughter, my oldest son, and my youngest son were THE primary motivation. It was the right thing to do, was a close second. Because I was in a position to do so and no one else wanted the grief. Because I couldn't sing and I couldn't dance, so I had to write the scripts for others who could.
The aforetalkedabout 'reason' is writers is thinkers and provoke otherins to be thinkin, and sometimes when I aint thinkin about it, I likes to think. Hell, Feodor'll make you think(and read) til yous crosseyed. I likes to write (not on the blog) for the theraputicals. An I been sendin out 3-4 page musins, observationals, and humorizins to a couple of dozen friends for years. Theysa satisfaction in it that cant be enlarged or belittled by others approval or disapproval. Its yours. But it sure dont hurt none if somebodys a likin it.
But I'd rather read than write, so if yous done wrote up somethin of interestins, I'd sure like to give it a read Rudy. Lemme know how I can get a hold on it.
BTW, Feodor--I got my copy of 'Dragonfly' Monday and finished it last night...great read, and if'n I hadn't got my tear ducts seered shut in a tragic crockypot accident years ago, I knowed I woulda been all weepy. I dont went & ordered me 3 more of preacher will's books.
And Rudy, if you aint read Glad River yet...I'm tellin you, that feller in there is you.
Mr. Campbell is a saint in the American southern tradition (though a Div School Yalie).
Sorry to add to your optical woes.
Partly what I wanted to acknowledge was the indication of your having suffered in an accident? military service? from maverick behavior?
"Texas" Terry Labonte will try to qualify for Daytona 500.
That is all.
(I b'lieve that there was a YAWP! Hoo hoo!)
I write because that's what I do.