Monday, February 01, 2010

Wisdom of Sherwood Anderson 1

I’ve been reading Sherwood Anderson, a Biography, by Kim Townsend. I always try to glean as much wisdom about the writing life as possible. And I was able to glean some words of wisdom from Anderson’s life.

“Anderson had been writing for years, and about himself, but a few years after he arrived in Elyria, he began to do so in order to bring himself into being. . . . Beginning in Elyria, he wrote in order to put one life aside and to discover another. Writing, he later said, was ‘curative’; it helped him face himself, to talk to himself. Reaching others with his writing, even the writing itself, these things were secondary. What mattered was that putting words down on paper enabled him to live. He would give up anything to be able to do it, lose it all - his business, his family, what was left of his sanity if need be. Nor would he pause to consider others’ feelings. . . . writing was his only salvation” (65).

First, let me say that I don’t think writing should be such an extreme effort as Anderson undertook. There needs to be balance in your life. And with that, God should be first, then family. If writing is before either of those, forget about it. You will live a miserable life. Is it no wonder that so many writers turn out to be alcoholics?

Now, on to my points. A true writer can’t help but write. It’s a part of who we are. As a writer, if you don’t write, you cease to exist (or at least you feel that way). Publishing is secondary to the true artist, because an artist will continue to create his/her art, no matter if the public likes it or not. We’re told today that we have to do this and do that; we have to create a platform; we have to have a resume for why we wrote this book. What happened to just letting an artist be an artist and writing what he/she feels the need to write. Sure, it helps to write what others want to read. But should a writer sell out? I say no, but let me write a couple of best sellers and I might change my mind.

I guess it goes back to why a person writes to begin with. Is he/she doing it for the money or because it’s a part of them and have no choice? That is where the real issue lies. I have always been a writer. As a kid I wrote stories on my lined paper that was supposed to teach me how to form my letters the correct way. In high school a creative assignment would turn into a ten page tale with all of the pieces of a great tale. In high school I started writing poetry that was disguised as song lyrics. As a kid I wrote plays that were performed in my backyard and at church. A writer is who I am and if I never published a word, I would still write.
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