Is your writing frivolous?

I am basically an angry person.

To be clear when I say ‘angry’ I mean the buttoned-up version that’s woven into the tweed fabric of an Englishman of my age. I’d never actually show my anger, I couldn’t punch a face, complain in a restaurant or even wag an accusatory finger…no, I’m angry in the way that means I smile as my blood pressure rises and my chance of a heart attack increases year on year.

Anything can set me off. The national shame that is Brexit, the international injustice of Yemen, cats looking at me in a funny way….pretty much anything can be a trigger.

This week it was a twitter conversation (is that what you call a string of tweets) with the author Mary Carter last week (@mjcarterauthor).

She was saying that she resented having her writing branded as a frivolous hobby…. that she had been told to get a ‘proper job’ and stop messing about with her writing.

…it made me angry….

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Writing is never frivolous

Never…never ever….writing is never frivolous.

I feel Mary’s pain. ‘People’ look at me in a different way since I gave up the gravy-train in order to concentrate on my writing.

The faces say “shouldn’t you be doing something a bit more worthwhile with your time…something a little more valuable than messing about making up stories”.

But that’s not the whole picture. Their eyes say something different.

Their eyes say “I wish I had the nerve to do something I feel passionate about.”

So I guess the first penny to drop is that doing something you want to do is never frivolous. Be that write, paint, sing, have kids, whatever. If you can figure out what’s going to do it for you, and you can find a way to do it, it’s got to be worth a try right.

…but that’s not really my point…

I’ve been writing ‘seriously’ now for four years, and the writers I’ve met and got to know a little are without exception ….. exceptional. I have yet to come across the embittered cynic who resents the success of other writers when their own work is overlooked. My writers are thoughtful, emotionally intelligent people. They have opinions that they have thought about and are comfortable if those opinions are challenged. They are listeners and observers. They are compassionate. They respect the work of others and support one another. They do not exclude, they welcome. They cherish discussion and loath ignorance.

In my experience people are complicated; good and bad, all rolled-up together in the wrappers life has given them. I don’t think that all these wonderful people I’ve met through writing are any different. I don’t think they popped out like they are now, I think something had a hand in rounding them off so well. I think that thing was their writing.

Putting ink on paper makes you think. You can write literature or romance, YA fiction or sci-fi, whatever it is you use as your backdrop, writing forces you to think. It forces you to think about what makes people tick. The act of writing makes you a better person because, before you attempt to create a character you have to understand her. You have to understand people in order to write them convincingly.

Could anyone argue that what we need in our world is a little less understanding? Thought not.

To write about people is to understand them.

What could be less frivolous than that?

Until we meet again….all good things to you.

Adam

(you have the right to write)

 

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8 thoughts on “Is your writing frivolous?

  1. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t focus on writing because it isn’t going to pay my bills or anything. Well, the way I see it is if I do well enough in the writing bit then if I get it out there and someone likes it enough to want to see it published (regardless of format, electronic or bound) then yes it will pay the bill and anything else my earned dollars can be stretched out to cover. Many caustic remarks have been made about my writing and reading, most of them by a very caustic (narcissistic) former roommate, and mostly about how if it isn’t getting me a degree it isn’t needed and I should focus on other things. I will always be impressed by others who know little to nothing of the required focus and process that a writer goes through to even get a story out of their head and into some form of print and all before they even begin the editing process. Keep writing and if anyone says anything stupid or ugly to you about writing instead of rubbing your nose against a grindstone then turn them into a character in a short story or something.

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  2. Reblogged this on Kelly Griffiths and commented:
    We have not only the “right to write,” but the responsibility. What else is so permanent a snapshot of the mind, save writing? However, writing doesn’t pay the bills when we start out (and maybe never). Barring lottery winners, one must make a living. The tightrope is to figure out how to make a living on writing. I teach writing, which I LOVE. My hope is one day to make money punching away at these keys, lost in a world of my own creation.

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