So you can read my books

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

INSECURE WRITER SUPPORT_William Faulkner, ghost, here

{1954 Photo by Carl Van Vechten}*

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

Gore Vidal died this evening.

It was heralded by an eerie mourning in the Shadowlands, echoing in the darkness like the wails of lost children.

Tall and distinguished looking, with a haughty baritone not unlike that of his conservative arch-enemy William F. Buckley,

Vidal appeared cold and cynical on the surface.

But he bore a melancholy regard for lost worlds, for the primacy of the written word, for "the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action."

Few living now have that sense. Americans have become the hollow people.

I found Roland 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 on 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.

*{As the restrictions on this collection expired in 1986, the Library of Congress believes this image is in the public domain.

However, the Carl Van Vechten estate has asked that use of Van Vechten's photographs "preserve the integrity" of his work, i.e, that photographs not be colorized or cropped, and that proper credit is given to the photographer. Such has been done respectfully.}


  1. Love your post Roland, I mean Mr. Faulkner. I'll try to do my best but I don't know if I'm good enough to touch the hear and soul. But one this is sure, if I don't try then
    I already have the answer.

    Tell Roland I had the same awful migraine last night, took 3 advil and had to call it a night. I hope he is feeling better today. (:

  2. Elise:
    Mr. Faulkner is happy your migraine is better. So is mine. My body didn't know what to do with a day off! But it's back to work for me today so all should be good! LOL.

    All we can do is try to be true to the hurts we have felt in life when we write of them in others'. Have a less hurtful day!! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hopefully I've focused enough on my characters and their struggles that their souls come through.

  4. I always connect with the character emotionally before I see their physical traits. I hope there souls shine to others when I'm done.

    I have a friend who suffers from chronic migraines, so I feel for any one who struggles with this.

  5. Diane:
    So true: no heart, no soul, no story!

    It did with CASSAFIRE. So much is demanding my time that is all I was able to read of your books. All we can do is try to touch the hearts of our readers!

    My head is exploding again as I write this. Ouch!!

  6. Hope you're feeling better Roland. I get those migraines too sometimes.

    Heart and soul are indeed the essence of a story, and something I strive to instill in my writings.

    Good post.


  7. THIS.... is why I nominated you dear friend. Isn't THIS what I have been saying to you since the first time I visited your blog.

    HEART and SOUL are EVERYTHING in writing. And you, Roland, have endless amounts of both in your prose.

  8. Hope you are feeling better Roland. You found a great stand-in though.
    I am late with my comments.
    Best wishes,
    Three things I could have done better