So you can read my books

Friday, January 6, 2012


William Faulkner, ghost, here.

I dropped in to chat with my young friend, Roland.

He is always happy to see me even though I am a ghost.

He was lying on his back, a sock, of all things, over his eyes.

He was being murdered by a migraine he groaned.

He asked if I would write to the young writer of today in his place.

I looked at the keyboard.

To write again. And to write of the art of prose.

I felt renewed.

But how to fill the vacuum of the blank monitor screen?

Vacuum. That was the key.

Despite the deluge from the media and this new technology, the internet,

today's young writer is oddly forced to function in a vacuum of the human race.

The irony of your main character is not that he or she is not tough enough or brave enough or deserving enough to be accepted into humanity.

No, there simply is no human race there.

Just a mass of frustrated urges, fears of terrorism, and nightmares of economic insecurity and rampant crime,

unredeemed by hope or education or self-awareness.

All your characters can do is buzz inside the upside-down tumbler of conventions and customs that have replaced humanity.

People all around us are being de-souled like stallions being gelded.

As a writer, your basest crime is to ignore the human soul.

I stroll unseen down the aisles of the bookstores of today's cities.

It seems to me that the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself ...

which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

In your imagination have no room for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart,

the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed -

love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

Until he does so, the writer labors under a curse.

He writes not of love but of lust,

of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion.

His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.

He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

He writes of the end of all that makes Man more than an animal.

I decline to accept the end of man. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.

He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice,

but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.

It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart,

by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.

The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man,

it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

You writers out there reading this, you have a sacred duty.

Entertain, yes.

But touch the heart, the soul. Mankind needs you to do this. And deep down, you know you need to do this, too.


  1. Love this..."It seems to me that the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself ..."

    ...nothing quite like that internal conflict...that's the 'real life' stuff, and we all get it...

  2. Like movies, it's all about the special effects, but the greatest stories are about the human condition.
    And as long as humanity has a soul, there is always hope.

  3. I love Faulkner.

    If I want to be entertained, I'll watch TV. If I want to feel someone else's perspective, I read a book.

  4. Roland,
    Such an encouragement, these words. Capturing the struggles, the hopes, the fears, the doubts, and the mysterious reasons for loving and sacrifice within a human heart upon a page...that is the dream. I'm smiling - thanks.

  5. Ahh, William. May I call you William? Any time you want to write again, my laptop's open for your use. In a twist of irony, though, can I get the ghostwriting credit? Seems only fair since I'm the corporeal one. Just saying.

  6. greetings, roland! wow! lots of great stuff happening here! good for you! i've been a bit out of the loop for a while - for a number of reasons which took me away - but wanted to come by and wish you a great 2012 - congratulations on all the good - oh, and ditto, ajc's comment above - it's all about the heart, isn't it! ;)

  7. J B :
    Yours is a lovely blog. Thanks for visiting. Yes, if all there is are special effects, as Alex says, but no struggle of the human heart in conflict with itself -- then, the prose is empty, isn't it? Come back please.

    Alex :
    You are right. Hollywood especially forgets this. What brings back the audience for a second viewing is when their hearts have connected to the characters in a real fashion. I'll be there for the A to Z Challenge.

    Tonja :
    It does seem as if a book can bring us deeper into the story than television somehow, doesn't it?

    Nadja :
    The smiles are all Faulkner's doing. I was just the lucky host of his spirit! Good to see you back. Please return, Roland

    Joshua :
    LOL. William, or Bill, as he lets me call him says if he does the work, he gets the credit! :-)

    I've missed you. I hope 2012 brings less stress and is a time more blessed. Don't be a stranger!
    And you and Alex are right : without heart, art may have dazzle but no redemption of the spirit.

  8. This, my friend, is what I have been admiring about your work from the first day I graced your amazing blog.

    I was swept away in the human condition, feeling your, heart and especially your soul... it is in every word you type.

    Hosting a group of ghostly writers to communicate your thoughts to us is part of you long, long past ... your soul is ageless.

  9. Thank you, Michael :
    For the past hour and a half, I have battling to re-establish wireless internet connection. I have burned through all my free time to write to you and my other friends. Aaaaargh!

    Thank you again, Michael for such kind words. I try to connect to the hurt and questions I sense in my blogging friends -- in a way that amuses, entertains, and hopefully uplifts and teaches.

    You make me feel as if my efforts are worth it. Have a great day! Roland

  10. I agree with Alex - it's about the human connection. Without that connection, why should we care?

  11. It's almost odd to consider the human soul. I say because it seems the value of the human soul has been diminished, its pricelessness ebbed into some dark abyss of quick-fix, feed my anger, fill my pockets misdirection.

    How do we speak to the soul, hidden so well behind the steel doors of I can'ts, no time fors and gimmes?

    Let me digress. Perhaps I've seen too much of this lack. I shall do my best to remember the human soul, to write to it.

  12. Dreams drifting like clouds.
    I reach to touch the pale moon.
    I grasp only the night.

    If it were original these slight changes would make it eligible for the contest.

    Why not do an original one and enter it? You certainly are capable.

    You could enter two more originals and a diversion always improves writing. Not that you need it.

  13. I agree with Angela Brown - our society seems to keep the human soul in neglect this days.

  14. I read your comment on Ann's blog that you caught poison ivy. Just want to say I hope that nasty stuff is history and you're feeling great. Happy New Year, Roland! And there was a ghost after all in NO!

  15. Nicole :
    You and Alex are right. The novels that touch me with love and laughter are the ones I return to again and again as old, valued friends.

    Angela :
    You are right. Many scoff at the mention of the soul. But deep within them are the starved remnants of their own. We all yearn to be appreciated for who we are, flaws and all. We all need a hug in the dark of the night. Speak to those needs and even those who do not think in terms of the soul will be drawn to your prose.

    Curmudgeeon :
    Thanks I will return to Scout with my re-vamped haiku, Roland

    Angela Orlowski-Peat :
    The soul exists in its lack in the eyes of so many you pass on the street. Many exist on the level of an animal, but even they feel the lack within themselves -- which explains their frenzied attempts to self-medicate the hollowness away with chemicals or sex or both. Sad.

    Kittie :
    Most of the poison ivy is a memory. Most. Brrr. Tell me more of the ghost you met in New Orleans!!

  16. Roland, by tomorrow, you will be at a thousand followers - I am sure of it!
    That and you're just one away right now...

  17. Alex :
    I've learned never to take anything for granted! But thanks for all you've done to send followers my way. Have a beautiful weekend, Roland

  18. That was amazing! And thank you - my novel in progress is about the human condition, the journey of one soul, and your post makes me relieved.