Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I loved this article

Jeffery Ellinger wrote this 25 Signs You are a Fake Writer on Thought Catalog a few days ago and a bunch of people got pretty pissed.

I thought the list was brilliant. It has this perfectly ambiguous mix of jest and truth, satire and gravitas that is so refreshing. It is self nullifying. It is perfectly constructed so that no matter how accomplished, how well known, how well read you are it is impossible to fulfill all of the list's requirements. It is the dancing little foolish Godel sentence that every person who has seriously devoted their time to writing has nightmares about.

Rather than being a benchmark of identity the list questions the very notion of what it could possibly mean to be a writer, calls out the absurd desire to identify, the need to validate one's work with the absurdity of a designation. And, at it's heart, the piece points out that no one is 'just a writer', that to be nothing beyond a writer is impossible and, I think, very undesirable. That the true writer is foremost an observer, a thinker, one who experiences and experiments, a perpetual failure and doubter of themselves and the world, a worker, an actor and an unbeliever.

It seems to me that the only people that will feel indignant at or offended by a list like this (or even care about it enough to have an opinion) are those who are more interested in being recognized as 'something' rather than those who are actually interested in the act of creation and the art of writing. That this piece is not meant to be taken seriously or ridiculed but viewed like a large work, where one can (and inevitably will) take the lessons one needs and can apply them as they see fit.

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