Essay: All We Need is a Writer Who Writes

Alyssa Rochelle White, BFR Staff

There are points in a writer’s life when the creative juices are not flowing. The juices have hit a block, a wall, and they say to the writer, “let us not be productive today.” The writer complies, justifying the lack of output by thinking that motivation will come later. Then the writer gets the idea to go search for that motivation. Stories have been found whilst watching people in the park and meandering through a pharmaceutical store, so the writer questions how difficult it can really be.

We’ve all been there with that hope that the story will just come to us out of thin air. I don’t mean to dismiss the figure of the muse, the fantastical expectation that ideas can appear from nothing, for the world would be a much bleaker place without that creative fall back. However, it is in the wait and the search for creativity that the writer becomes co­dependent on external modes of motivation, forgetting that the only true mode of writing is the act of writing itself. If we strip away the inspiration that every “Ten Steps to become a better Writer” tells us we need, we find that all we truly need is a writer with a will to write.

But with the need for motivation, the writer goes on the hunt. The writer’s mind is still constrained and will be constrained until the simplicity of a pen and napkin is taken up. Before that, the writer will search through writer manifestos, talks on writing, and even print out the fancy posters that say, “You are a writer!” This type of writing advice (and affirmation of one’s writerly status) can help when used in moderation and when molded to the writer’s own style. But the accumulation of tips and tricks that line the internet more often than not creates further boundaries to get through. The advice says, “No! Don’t do it that way! You won’t get published!” And the writer shall digress out of fear. Then the writer reads books about writing and blogs about storytelling and tweets from people that are supposedly writing. And this should all trigger . . . something? Some form of inspiration is expected to burst out of the writer’s chest with every word of a novel ejaculated in the course of one day.

That’s not how it works, though. So, what’s missing? Well maybe it’s the atmosphere. Coffee needs to be made, a rain dance needs to be done, and music needs to be played, matching the tone of the novel and emphasizing the emotion that will prompt the words forward.

And still, nothing.

Not even rain.

After all this is done, the writer still wonders why the words aren’t coming. And the answer is that the writer hasn’t taken the time to mess up, to fail, to create a horrible slosh of words that will need to be edited later. The life of the modern day writer has become a bag full of “when’s.” When I’m inspired. When I’m motivated. When I find the time. When I know the exact thing to write. When it all lines up.

But the art of spilling ink (even at the keyboard) is messy and in turn it’s productive.

Writing a book takes the time that it takes, and that means it takes three weeks or three months or three years. Let it take the time. But don’t let time be something that escapes you. Don’t be the writer that says time cannot be found. Time is everywhere. And when you do find time, don’t be the writer who says, “Well now that I’m here, I have time to write, but I don’t know what to write about.” Write about anything. Write about the fear of writing and go from there. Fail and fail hard because among twenty horribly written stories, blogs, and novels comes a well­-written piece of work. Failure provides powerful lessons. It affords insight. You can feel good about failure. Failure means you did something. And you could do it with all those modes of motivation mentioned above; I know I’ve resorted to using them countless times over my life. But it is important to know that you are not a lost writer without them.

Essay: Something To Say

Samara Michaelson, BFR Staff

What is there to say that hasn’t already been felt? I can create nothing new, only new to young eyes. I can create nothing new but can only cut and paste words to tell you something I want to say. What do we tell anyone, and what do we tell the anonymous everyone?

The walls are white, and there is a clothes rack in the middle of the room. The windows are open, and the comforter is damp. The lamp is turned on, and a dog just barked. Is that what I should tell you?

The ink of my pen is blue, but that doesn’t matter does it? What makes it not matter? And what makes anything matter? I use the same words to tell you when I woke up and where I’m from as when I tell you that I’m scared of never getting what I want because I’ve turned my desires into things that could never exist. It’s all the same words, or at least the same letters, or at least the same lines and curves and edges.

Only the ideas of things exist, when these things are not before you. So we live in a world that is swarmed with an infinite number of ideas. Anything is possible as an idea, but that doesn’t mean anything’s possible. Things keep moving as I move my pen across this page, they keep moving and allow me to sit up here and act like everything’s still. That’s a privilege really, most people aren’t allowed to question themselves or the reality on which they are dependent. They can’t risk it, they can’t climb all the way up and hold their tic tic ticking watch off the edge and let it slip to be amazed at how far they’ve climbed or how far they’ll fall.

I heard a homeless couple break up last night out my window. He felt she was selfish because she complained about being hungry after a day of no food while he starved himself for three days just to give her anything he had. He called her selfish, said that she didn’t care about his feelings. It’s strange to think that no one’s immune from feelings. But, it’s the way in which we find and express them that hides that characteristic of universality.

It is that feeling of loneliness in the empty space of emotions that make them ever more potent. Thus it is the very nature of feeling anything to at once feel like an individual, and to feel the duplicity of being a body that others can look upon and think to know and a self that is blind to that very body. It is the privacy of self even to the conscious part of that same self. We are scared to not know ourselves. How could we not when we are constantly having to be so sure and decide where to eat tonight? We are forced to pretend to ourselves that we know every one of our parts. It’s cleaner. The outline is defined, the wood isn’t splintered and the metal isn’t rusty.

Let’s all write what we are supposed to. Let’s all say what we are supposed to. But no, then we would all fade into the outline of these words, of these bodies, and nothing would mean anything if I ever figured out what I wanted to tell you.