I must confess that I feel writing a thousand words is not particularly satisfying. The more I write the more I want to write. I remember when I was driving truck, one of those experiences I do not recommend, the man who was my one the road instructor told me that he had always dreamed of driving sine he was a child. His vision was one in which he would climb behind the wheel and drive as if he were driving into the sunset. Just run through the gears and keep on driving. I must admit that I get that feeling when I am sitting before the keyboard. Not that all the thoughts gel and form into sentences and paragraphs ready for the typing. Rather it is that need to write, to express what lies within that makes it almost a compulsion.
Today I exist of social security, thanks to the ex-wife, and a little savings. My needs are not great, automobiles are paid for since I have a habit of buying good used vehicles, and my house has a small GI loan type mortgage. I don’t have many bills and I can exist on half my income. So I can indulge in this passion of writing, I can spend time doing what other people find difficult and time consuming. I make no money writing, I am not a free-lancer, I don’t sell my work and frankly I am not too interested in that rat race. Those who must sell their services must write to suit their buyers. I don’t have that problem, I am free to write what I like, free to write what I feel. I am beholden to no one. Like the oracle in ‘Oh Brother’ I work for no man. Well, that was Ulysses made modern. Damn good writing, very entertaining.
Where did all this start? Most of you who are under the age of sixty will not remember that great television of the late sixties. It’s a shame, really, because most of you only know SNL. Laugh-In was a one of its kind, bar none. Yes, I remember TW3, or the American version of the british comedy, That Was The Week That Was. But Laugh-In went far beyond that attempt at political and social humor. My first wife, poor woman, hated puns and non sequiturs, but there I was each week watching the show and coming back with my own zingers. God, my ideal job would have been a writer on that staff. I think that show taught me a great deal about humor that I would have never learned anywhere else. Now that I am in my sixties I doubt that I could ever fine a position as a staff writer for a comedy show like that. Ah, but I can dream and my dreams are very funny.
Humor, comedy, that is such an avenue for a writer to seek fun and delight, I can only guess at what I could have done. You see, it is the creativity that drives writers. It is that ability to try and find some common ground with an audience. In a way we are all stand up comedians, all story tellers of the first rank, the purveyors of culture that matters. Any fool can write history. Well, not any fool can write good history or great history, for that matter. Writers do that one thing many individuals cannot do for themselves. They can simplify and explain with an economy of word and effort what others want to know. Do you understand how important that is? Any fool can write words, but not everyone can take in information and present it in a way that allows one to understand simply and economically. It doesn’t matter if the subject is history, technology or political satire. What good writing does is make the world understandable. I cannot put it more simply than that. We teach writing in secondary schools and in higher education but this simple fact seems to escape the notice of the professional educators.
Sometimes I envision life as watching Mystery Science 2000, where one sits and watches the third rate film and creates dialogue to suit the occasion. I find myself doing that with some of the classics. My current spouse was most disconcerted when at the end of watching the film Butterfield 8, Laurence Harvey, at the end, said, “She was so good.” And my response was, “The good die young.” Well, didn’t that destroy the ending. Yes, that final sentence should have been cut as far too obvious. Yes, I am a trouble maker. it comes so naturally. But the film editor was reaching to jerk a few heartstrings and my comment is what he deserved. Beating a dead horse at its own game is not an option. But all of this points to that human endeavor that is unique to us humans, thinking.
To write is to think, for you cannot do it the other way round. A writer needs to think, needs to explore the world of thought and expound on what may be found. It is not easy to think and most folk don’t do it well no matter how much the may complain that they do. Thinking requires the creation of ideas and ideas requires words and sentences and paragraphs that are assembled in some logical sequence. Even if one is involved in the creation of a fantasy, that fantasy has a certain logic to its creation, else it would exist. Words create visions of existence, they create worlds of meaning. Words have meaning and words create patterns of meaning. It is a variation on a theme and that is what life represents. Writing is that very variation on a theme, that ability to present to readers new worlds of meaning, new world of possibilities. What more could you want from life? Is it any wonder that writing can be very addictive? Perhaps Alfred Nobel understood this when he included literature in his prizes. Think of it, to rank up there with physics and chemistry and physiology or medicine. To be ahead of Peace is to be ahead of the game, to show that substance matters more than show. To think that a humanity can rank with the queen of science (mathematics is the king), that even this queen needs writing ti make itself accessible to all, what greater skill can one obtain? Writing is the hand maiden of science, not its servant.