So you can read my books

Monday, December 6, 2010


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

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. Hope the migrain has subsided, Roland. They really are horrible little things.

    Great post, as always.

    Congrats on your blog award!