Friday, September 6, 2013

Credo

I was going to write a nice little thing on editing, but something's bothering me.

I've been hanging out (mostly lurking, sometimes commenting) in some google plus communities. And... Well...

Seems as if the writing community collecting there has one hell of a dark side.

About a week ago, some writers were putting stuff up on the internet saying that writers aren't writers unless you've a firm grip on plot and characters, on grammar etc. Which I think goes above and beyond trying to discourage new writers. So I wrote this.

Then, a few days ago, someone asked whether or not one should actively put messages into the stories you write. I said that I don't, since I think that telling people what they should think is a bit presumptuous. Sorry, people who do actively put messages into your writing. I know some of you who read this blog do it. And that's okay.

That's not really why I'm writing this post, though.

No. It's the response someone left to my comment.

To quote:



"Well, you most certainly can write with that pointlessness +Misha Gericke. That's your prerogative. I'm in the camp that those who have a message have a story. Whether or not someone believes it or likes it is irrelevant. There's an audience for every message, even the message of relativistic nothingness.
If you don't have anything specific to say then you have no right to expect people to read what you write or listen to what you say.

Personally, I know I'm right in what I write as far as my message is concerned. Some may call that arrogant. Some call it confident. I don't know much but the stuff that I know, I know. Therefore, it's not presumptuous for me to convey what I know. It's loving because there are many people who don't know who, after reading my material, will know. That may enrich their lives a little more. That's a good thing. And even if they don't agree, I've still enriched their knowledge by giving them the other side of the coin.

Time is life. Therefore, I believe as a writer you should make sure you have something to say before you waste people's time.

Like the wise sage Monk on his television program used to say, I could be wrong...but I'm not.
"

What's annoying the crap out of that message is this: 

"If you don't have anything specific to say then you have no right to expect people to read what you write or listen to what you say." 

and

"write with that pointlessness" 

It's really hard for me not to go off on a rant about this, but instead, I'm going to catagorically state some hard truths. 

This is my writer's credo:

1) My writing's purpose is to entertain people. The way writers of stories are supposed to entertain. This is a writer's first duty. 

2) The writer's second duty is to fulfill a purpose in society. This purpose is to show society the effects of our beliefs, choices and actions in a way relevant to a given story. It does not give us the right to make judgement calls on what's right and what's wrong. 

3) I am a chronicler. A scribe. Not a teacher, preacher, politician or moralist.

4) I have my own code of ethics and morals. But writing is not the medium through which I'd force them on anyone else. 

5) Story and character must always come first. Not the message. Never the message. In fact, the message shouldn't exist.

6) Creating a message is the readers' prerogative. Not mine.

7) I have absolutely no right to deem any writer worthy or unworthy of writing. Or in any way lesser than me because they have a different approach to the craft.  


As I said, I know that some of you will disagree with me. Some of you may disagree with every single point of my credo. And that's okay. 

But what's not okay is to be disrespectful of someone else for what they believe to be right. This is what all this is about for me. 

Respect. Respect your readers. Respect your writing colleagues. Respect humanity as a whole. Because we're all part of all three groups. We all display characteristics of those groups. So if you can't respect them, you can't respect yourself either.

31 comments:

  1. My first purpose is to entertain. Do my own morals creep into what I write? Sure, because I couldn't write about something that goes against my grain. I just keep it subtle. Is there a message? I'd call it more of a theme, and it wasn't intentional. (Because I'm just not that clever with my writing.)

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  2. So sorry for you, but you've handled it beautifully. I believe those that write with the intent of sharing a message usually come off preachy, which is a real turn off for me. On the other hand, most books have a theme or message, but they don't hit people over the head with it. The reader intuits the message from the story. I love your credo, by the way. And yes, respecting other peoples' opinions and feelings is so key to good relationships and communication. Sounds like that group has some folks in it who don't understand and don't know how to do that.

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  3. I like this. Writing has always been a way to communicate for me. It works to tell about life. Sometimes life is a fascinating, well written story with well developed characters against a fantastic background. Many times it's a meaningless mess that simply confounds us. And what many people seem to forget is not all writing is fiction writing. The scientific papers I read for my job have no plot and demand different rules of grammar than the books I read for pleasure. Also, not all people have perfect grammar. Great post.

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  4. You handled this beautifully, Misha. Now just let it go. What that person wrote was self-serving gibberish.

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  5. Wow! Just... Wow.

    I absolutely agree that entertaining readers is priority one, which means story and character come first for me when writing.

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  6. I love your credo. And my #1 is to entertain too. That's why I write fiction. If I wanted to preach or teach, then I'd write nonfiction.

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  7. Arrogance does breed contempt-for someone who is so righteous (espec. in their own mind). Just the choice of words used by that person shows they think they're competent to judge.

    Your credo sounds more like my own. I'm not a fan of forums. (what happened to you is one of the reasons)

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  8. Sounds like you bumped into a writer on an ego trip or something. Yowsa. But I like your credo. And I approve of your royalty goal thingy! It sounds awesome. Way to go, Misha.

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  9. I too believe that our stories entertain our readers. If there is a message, then good, if there is no message, that too is okay. I avoid getting preachy in my writing.

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  10. I agree too - entertaining readers is what we do, and all that matters at the end of the day. ;)

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  11. I enjoyed this post, Misha.
    I believe people will always disagree on something.
    I am open to all the possibilities because I love diversity. I love it when people have different opinions. It entertains me.
    Respect is essential, of course.
    Great post.

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  12. 'Therefore, it's not presumptuous for me to convey what I know. It's loving because there are many people who don't know who, after reading my material, will know.'

    OK, first off nothing in that person's response was loving. It was quite creepy almost cultist to me. I do believe that sometimes you write with a message but never do I think that message MUST be heard or accepted by anyone else. Worse being rude and taking on the attitude of a bigot doesn't help anyone's case. If this person was so confident I don't think their response would be so biting. Points to weak and full of %$@#. Just my personal opinion which after all according to this person is law of your own dreamland. Whatever, just write your stuff and leave the rest of the world alone. Thank You/ (Sadie from Awkward) You're Welcome - Person I never want to meet, especially in a dark alley.

    Anyway I'm glad you created a mature credo to this. #1 is a must but my #1 is creating something I'm satisfied with and willing to share with others. If I hate it, why should anyone else like it? And #7 is essential in creating relationships with other writers. Who wants to hang with a jerk? Enjoy your weekend and move past the bad crazies.

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  13. It would be a tedious world if we were all the same and agreed on everything. Respect for ourselves and others is of the utmost importance in life because there will always be differing opinions. Thanks, Misha, it's an interesting, thought provoking post.

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  14. My credo is along the same lines as yours. Though I clearly write stories I believe in, I try very hard not to be heavy-handed with a message. Readers see through that stuff right away.

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  15. Thanks all, for commenting, it's nice to read comments by you, whose opinions mean a lot to me, and see that you agree with my take on things. :-)

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  16. Handled very well, As I write poetry and mostly about my life experiences sometimes it's rather boring to say the least but I do write happy poems too.

    Yvonne.

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  17. I think the entire premise is strange-- that some how one person has an insight into all kinds of writing, genres and styles. I have enough trouble trying to define my own vision and insights, let alone someone else's. It would never ever occur to me to assume another writer should or shouldn't write a certain way, so the whole thing is very odd to me.

    Sounds like this person has some convictions that have bled into righteousness. The trick is not to do it back, which it appears, you kept your head about you very well.

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  18. I'm reading Isaac Asimov's Opus 100 right now and even he (who we can all agree is a true writer--whatever that is) says that he doesn't every try to put themes into his stories. He goes on to laugh at the questions textbooks put after his short stories about meaning and says that he would probably answer wrong anyway. The point is, the reader is usually the one who finds meaning, even if the author didn't know it was there. Also, that comment you posted is very rude and self-righteous to me. I'd bet that person's writing sucks, just based on that obnoxious sample. Your credo rocks!

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  19. I'm sorry that "writer" was so mean to you; you didn't deserve that at all. That person wrote, "Some may call that arrogant"; I would DEFINITELY say that that entire passage illustrates that person's arrogance. It's obvious that that person has an inflated view of herself/himself.
    I don't really put messages in my story; like you, I think that if they work for the story/the writer, then it's fine. But the only "message" I send is "DRINK MORE COFFEE AND COKE", because my characters are always drinking these things. (They may or may not be reflecting what I'm always drinking.) I think that the story and the characters can speak for themselves.

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  20. I completely agree with you on this, Misha. I like your credo, and I like the caring and sharing way you work online. That some people are just nasty in the way they interact is sad. The internet is a free place, so people can say whatever they like, but with freedom comes responsibility.

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  21. That's a nice Credo, it's a shame you were told off for exercising your opinion by someone who so strongly believes in exercising theirs...

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  22. With you all the way! I'm a story-teller, not a preacher! Great post :-)

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  23. Argh, these sorts of things are so frustrating! I mean, goodness, not everyone has the same type of message to convey and not everyone has to drill a message into each story. Why on earth would writing in a different way be "pointless"? Grr...
    And, really, has this person been in an airport lately? All those bestselling same-as-the-next-one books at the shops there barely have a *point* let alone a message...

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  24. That person is right - in that - yes, he or she is arrogant. And by the tone of that comment - very angry. Don't worry about what someone like that thinks because you know it's not worth it. Wasted negative energy just eats away at you and you've better things to do with your time, right?

    Storytelling and entertaining always important for me, using my imagination to help someone, or bring them something good. Messages are what people perceive. I'm definitely not a preacher and I find overtly preachy books unappealing.

    Happy writing! XO

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  25. I write to entertain too, Misha. If my readers get some kind of message out of it, good for them. And seriously, if half the "writers" out there spent more time writing/revising instead of pontificating on social media... Oops. Gotta get back to work now.

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  27. I like your Credo. Different novels do different things. For instance, I love reading the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich and/or the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Why? Because they are fun. Is there a bigger message in either of those books? I don't think so. Both authors just want to tell a rollicking good story. Does that mean I never take away anything from any of her characters? No. Sometimes I do, simply because both authors are true to the character's voice. And people always have a lot to teach us, if we are willing to learn. Does that mean I take away the same "message" that everyone else does. I highly doubt it, since I don't think either of those series set out to deliver a "message."

    I would ignore that comment. Just because someone is convinced that their way is the only way, doesn't mean it is true.

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  28. I love your credo and especially love #3. I absolutely can not stand being preached to while I am reading a story. I have stopped reading some writers because it was obvious their books became more about their own agendas then their stories. Even if I agree with whatever they are preaching, I still don't want to have it take over a book.

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  29. Hi Misha,

    This goes beyond any life as a writer angle to which you have expressed with a rightful passion. This is indeed about life of being a decent human. You embrace that with aplomb.

    Those who would stir, often stir for stirring's sake.

    Although your writing ideals are somewhat different from mine, dear friend, the ideal we share is that the message in the words you articulate are for the perception of the reader to deduce.

    Always believed writing should be intimate. It's just the reader and the writer in a shared experience.

    Respect to you, Misha.

    Gary

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  30. I agree with your credo, Misha. I have and always will put down a book which seems to be asserting the authors beliefs. I do not expect to be exposed to them in genre fiction, thanks. Most fiction does however have some kind of theme, which is cool. I enjoy universally accepted themes in a story - 'Karma will get ya, love is all you need, war is bad, the devil comes in the hot guy's clothing to bite you on the rump' ... but anything more and I'm not happy. Theme can at times cross over into the danger zone and become preachy, so one needs to be aware of that while writing. Are we trying to entertain or teach? If teach, then write a non-fiction How-to. Whoever you quoted will soon find their readers will prove that person right or wrong. I'd probably put their book down.

    Good for you Misha, but move away form the darker forces of social networking. It's easy to get 'polluted' by their reactive displays of self import. You know your mind and your heart. That's all that matters. :) X

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  31. Ha! That writer's quite a meanie!
    He/she DEFINITELY takes the award for "being deluded by ones own self-importance"...

    Wonderful credo Misha!
    And it's okay if we "agree to disagree"... the important thing is HOW we do it! Mutual respect is the keyword here!
    Writer In Transit

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