So you can read my books

Thursday, January 19, 2012

WHY DO YOU WRITE? Ghost H L Mencken here

{"For every difficult problem there’s a solution that’s simple, neat and wrong."
- H. L. Mencken.}

I never expected to be a ghost. But then, I never expected to be aware of surprise or anything else after death.

Life had been an endless source of surprises. I should have expected the same thing of death.

Samuel Clemens has asked me to step in for Roland on his blog.

I was delighted. A blog is much like a newspaper column but without the scant pay and worse deadlines.

Better I get to ask questions of my readers. Such as why did you start to write? What keeps you at writing? What shore are you heading your prose craft to?
To be fair I will tell you of my feelings towards writing :

1.) "Words are veils."
It is hard enough to put into them what one thinks. It is a sheer impossibility to put into them what one feels.
Such skepticism, however, never keeps me from trying.

2.) Writing is a lonely profession.
Chandler was right. But don't tell the sourpuss that. He's hard enough to "live" with as it is.

The writing profession is reeking with this loneliness.
All our lives we spend in discoursing with ourselves. . . . The loneliest people in the world we writers are.

Except that, while we are conversing and laughing with ourselves, we manage to shed our loneliness . . . to scatter it as we go along.

That is the express reason why your blogs are so important. They are a chain of linked spirits holding on to one another through the darkness of the cyber-void.

3.) Persistence in writing is dedication for me. Vanity for you.

I jest of course. It is how we ghosts keep from going totally mad.
Why, then, do rational men and women engage in so barbarous and exhausting a vocation?

What keeps them from deserting it for trades that are less onerous, and, in the public eye, more respectable?

The answer, it seems to me, is as plain as mud.

An author is simply one in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in.

His overpowering impulse is to dance before his fellow men, flapping his wings and emitting his defiant yells. It appeals to the little child in all of us creative beings.

This being forbidden by the Polizei of all civilized countries, we take it out by putting our yells on paper or on the computer screen.

Such is the thing called self-expression. Such is the genesis of blogs.

4.) The Worth of Blogs : Education.

Education in the truest sense --
education directed toward awakening a capacity to differentiate between fact and appearance --

always will be a more or less furtive and illicit thing, for its chief purpose is the controversion and destruction of the very ideas that the majority of men --

and particularly the majority of official and powerful men --

regard as incontrovertibly true. To the extent that I am genuinely educated.
I am suspicious of all the things that the average politician believes and the average pedagogue teaches.

Progress consists precisely in attacking and disposing of these ordinary beliefs.

5.) Why I "ghost"-wrote for an unpublished writer at the request of Samuel Clemens :
How could I not?

what a man Mark Twain is!

How he stood above and apart from the world, like Rabelais come to life again, observing the human comedy, chuckling over the fraudulence of man!

He regards all men as humbugs, but as humbugs to be dealt with gently,
as humbugs too often taken in and swindled by their own humbuggery.

Clemens is in a dark mood that Chandler's past writing upset some. I tried to comfort him with the fact

that any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.

I reminded him that the great artists of the world are never Puritans,
and seldom respectable.

No virtuous man - that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense -

has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.

*) Feel free to disagree with me. I am but a ghost.

I am often wrong. My prejudices are innumerable, and often idiotic.
My aim is not to determine facts, but to function freely and pleasantly -

as Nietzsche used to say, to dance with arms and legs.

Let me know why you write, why you continue to write despite rejections from agent or publisher, and what is your ultimate goal for your novels.

I'm truly interested. Just walk out into the moonlight and whisper. I am a ghost I will hear.


  1. Lovely post, as usual. Your voice is very powerful.
    I write, in spite of rejections, because I always have found it to be a release. I wrote my 1st story in elementary, as therapeutic escape, and I find still today it is relaxing. I don't smoke or drink or anything fun like that, so I guess writing is not a bad vice to have. :)

  2. HI, Roland,

    A new ghost. Your friendships with these spirits are amazing.

    He has some great insights to why writer's write.

    "That is the express reason why your blogs are so important. They are a chain of linked spirits holding on to one another through the darkness of the cyber-void."

    This is a fantastic insight... It seems words never escape you.

  3. Yes, blogging is a way for us to join together for support.
    I write to see adventures I've not already seen.
    And because I absolutely can't dance!

  4. I'll comment specifically on the education piece: This is why I write (and blog).

    I believe creativity and artistry and genius are educated right out of us -- IF you rely entirely on the institutionalized education process.

    Writing, and art in general, has nothing to do with the establishment, and it has no motive of molding us into good citizens who consume and spend where we are told to consume and spend.

    Sounds a little Fight Club, but it's true. That's why every government's primary agenda is education of the citizens.

    Writers have always stood on the fringe of the institution. They hold pen against sword and often claim victory.

    Writers make it a point to see the world sideways. We are sideways thinkers.

    This, I think, is the heart of why I write. It is not so much as to attack the grain, or cut with or against the grain, but rather to sand it and stain it and expose the grain so that others may see the sideways glance.

    Then the reader can decide whether to cut with or against it, see.

    - Eric

  5. Helena :
    I started writing in elementary school as well. Smokers smoke because they are addicted -- no fun there that I can see! LOL. As for drinking ... I get into enough trouble sober! Yes, in the world of prose we can explore and muse "what if?" Now, that IS fun. Thanks for visiting and staying to chat! Roland

    Michael :
    Some words escape me that shouldn't, especially when I whack my knee on a door facing! I'm you agree that we bloggers hold on to one another in the cyber-void, helping each of us feel not quite so alone and keeping our head above the waters of rejection.

    May you have great luck and better times at that New York conference, Roland

    Alex :
    The adventures come to life for me on the page. Is it silly? But I read my own books sometimes!

    Eric :
    Thomas Paine would agree with you. Like you, I feel the magic is brushed, combed, washed, and regimented right out of us by the school system -- but not in my classroom. Still I was but one teacher.

    In my GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY, I have the ghost of Bruce Lee urge new writers to be strangers in their own lives, to see life anew as a child or a stranger might see it. Thanks for giving such an evocative, reflective comment, Roland

  6. Lol, great quotes! I suppose writing is just something we not to dwell on it too much;)

  7. I love this post. Magic woven throughout the words.

    I write because it is my love affair with words. Sometimes they love me and give me pages upon pages of themselves to revel in, pouring through my fingers with a lover's passion. Other times, not so much. But that is the give and take of such love.

  8. Really? I've never read CassaStar again, not after the final revisions for my publisher. I'd rather remember it as I envisioned, especially as I read more and more of my friends' books and realize the simplicity of what I write.

  9. I love your ghost series.

    When I started writing, it was such a release for the voices and thoughts tumbling around in my head. All these memories come bumbling to the surface when I engage the page.

    Writing is a lonely profession, but I don't mind it. I think I thrive in it.

    My ultimate goal is to be published.

  10. Writing is like breathing! It just has to be done to survive.

  11. Mark :
    You mean like over-analyzing a joke. It loses both fun and laughter when you do that, right?

    Angela :
    Thanks. Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes the sparkler seems to fizzle. But like you, I am in love with words -- and they love me back. In LAST EXIT TO BABYLON, I have a crippled gardener be healed by the garden he has tended for long years in love. Over the seasons, the garden came to love him back.

    Alex :
    I like to read my books because I have such a large canvas in my head of a sprawling supernatural war that it helps me keep the players all in mind. Besides, I get to see things my subconscious planted in my earlier books of which I was unaware but now stand out as foreshadowing of things to come. My unconscious is sneaky like that! LOL.

    Yvonne :
    As a poet, you may like my post for tomorrow : the ghost of Emily Dickinson.

    Blog friends like you make writing immensely less lonely.

    I pray that soon you will become published. Thanks, Roland

    Ann :
    Right. Like sharks, we must keep on writing, swimming through the ocean of prose or die -- at least inside! Have a beautiful weekend, Roland

  12. Hi Roland .. amazing post and comments - good to read .. cheers Hilary