Sunday, April 10, 2011

In A Perfect World Originality Would be Trendy

"I think the only person a writer has an obligation to is himself. If what I write doesn't fulfill something in me, if I don't honestly feel it's the best I can do, then I'm miserable."--Truman Capote

One of the worst sins a person (let alone a writer) can commit is to sell themselves short.  If the only reason you write is to please other people, then why write at all? Who's more important than you and your sense of integrity? What fulfillment are you getting out of penning words that have absolutely no meaning to your soul? When you die, what kind of mark will you have made on the world by simply going with the flow?  Personally, I don't want to be remembered for sticking to the script of a particular genre,  I want to be remembered for ad-libbing it. No, I want to take that script, re-write it, show it a good time and then take it to levels it's never seen before.  I don't want to be remembered for the menial and the mundane, I want to be remembered for taking people on one hell of a ride.  Sure, following the crowd may get you where you want to go, but deviation gets you noticed; it engraves your very essence into people's memories and takes you, as the author, on one hell of a ride in the process.  A well-worn path is boring. You know where it leads, where each curve and each dip appear.  Your writing should carve its own paths into the earth.

Increasingly, this concept is being thrown to the waysided by authors--especially new authors who are far too agreeable to compromise.  To them, fulfillment is spelled A-G-E-N-T, not U-N-I-Q-U-E or, heaven forbid, O-R-I-G-I-N-A-L.  If it makes you miserable to do so, why write for the sake of a trend; for the sake of the approval of a few teeny boppers whose interests are as fickle as their dating lives? These are the same people who, when the next big and incredibly annoying thing comes along, are going to drop you like a worn out Backstreet Boys CD. Do you remember the Backstreet Boys?  Yeah, no one does.  There's only so much a trend can be beaten to death, only so much a person can have hammered into their consciousness.  Be unique.  Be original.  Don't sell yourself short.  Write what makes you happy and not what a soon-to-be extinct middle man says should make you happy.

None of the literary classics still on bookstore shelves today were the product of trends.  There aren't 50 different versions of To Kill A Mockingbird out there and there's a reason for that. True classic literature is not uninspiring drivel meant to entice sales and pad corporate pockets.  True classic literature is written to entrance, to intrigue, to inspire a country, not a bank account.  In 100 years, I can and will guarantee you that Twilight will not hold any kind of relevance to society, but classics such as To Kill A Mocking Bird, Wuthering Heights, Gone With The Wind, The Catcher In The Rye, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead will remain best sellers.

To repeatedly beat a dead horse is to question the readers' intellect.  When the public finally arises out of the vampiric fog they've been blindly stumbling through, perhaps they'll finally be able to see these trends for what they are: fleeting, meaningless, and uninspired.

I will now descend from my soapbox, pick up my machete and resume carving my own path to happiness.

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