Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Writing is Giving

funny-pictures-always-hold-hands-with-your-kitten When I was responding to your comments on The Art of Styling Sentences, I thought several times: I sure hope this person finishes their WIP soon and gets it published. I like and want to read her/him.

Kath posted a video of Coldplay on her blog, which got me thinking that performing isn’t about you. It’s about the audience. You can see it when watching Coldplay: they aren’t giving the audience their songs, they’re giving the audience the experience the audience wants. More than anything, they are a reflection for the audience's hopes, dreams and emotions.

I have similar feelings about writing (and performing, actually!). The story isn’t about me. It isn’t about my technique or skill or my characters or my imagination.

It’s really about the readers. It’s about giving them acceptance and warmth and love through your characters. It’s about letting them feel that it’s okay to be flawed or different or not perfect. It's about giving them hope, love, happiness. An experience.

image For me, being a writer is about accepting people and loving people, even the ones you violently disagree with. They’re people: they’re still fascinating. They still have hopes and dreams. They love people and/or want to be loved, even when they don’t appear to. (Maybe especially then.)

Writing is about understanding and sympathizing with every character, even ones we might judge at first glance. By extension, it’s also learning to try to understand and sympathize with every person we meet. Even loving them, all of them, even the ones I violently disagree with. Not a condescending love, just a love, just an acceptance. Just an appreciation for the different experiences of being human.

When I write, I feel like I’m opening my arms and letting my readers into a hug. My heart opens. That’s silly, but when I sit down, that’s exactly how I feel. I want my readers to feel loved when they read my stories.

For me, writing is giving.


31 bonus scribbles:

Anonymous,  2/10/2009 06:58:00 PM  

I think to some extent many writers are givers. We want to entertain and thrill people. Make them laugh or cry. Let them know that we understand what they're going through or to make them think. If we didn't care about that, then we'd be working at a one-person mountain station in the middle of the Andes.

Susan Helene Gottfried 2/10/2009 09:17:00 PM  

One word for your theory: Trevor.

You're right on, my friend.

Aimless Writer 2/10/2009 09:24:00 PM  

I think Stephen King said it best when he said he just wanted to be a damn good storyteller.
I think I want to take the reader somewhere else for awhile. Away from their real world, like on a little vacation of the mind.

Eric Mayer,  2/10/2009 09:34:00 PM  

I'm with Aimless. I just want to tell a story that someone enjoys. When I was a kid, my friends and I sat around telling each other stories. It's still a great game.

Edie 2/11/2009 12:41:00 AM  

I'm reading Sol Stein's STEIN ON WRITING. He compares writing to sex, and says writing "has to be a good experience for both partners, the writer and the reader..."

I love that.

Zoe Winters 2/11/2009 03:54:00 AM  

I'm really sympathizing with the villain of my WIP right now. And I think this character is just trying to manipulate me into not killing her.

But I got to.

Bevie 2/11/2009 06:39:00 AM  

It's kind of like Zoe Winters said. As I better developed my antagonist, I developed a backstory for him and came to kind of like him.

It is about trying to understand - and therefore accept - people of all kinds.

Janna Qualman 2/11/2009 08:37:00 AM  

"For me, being a writer is about accepting people and loving people, even the ones you violently disagree with. They’re people: they’re still fascinating..."

You know, I never really thought about this in so many words, but I think there's a lot of truth to it. Because we can't WRITE the truth of things, if we don't see all this about the people around us.

Amy Nathan 2/11/2009 08:44:00 AM  

I've always thought it was about the reader...even with blogging.

For me it's a love of writing, coupled with the challenge and thrill of storytelling and wondering if anyone will get anything out of it. I think that writers who are out to teach a lesson, often miss. Those who want to tell a story, and do so, often hit the mark.

Melanie Avila 2/11/2009 09:40:00 AM  

I've never really thought about it in those terms - I guess that just shows how new I am to all this. :) It makes sense to write for the reader, but I also like the idea of writing for yourself, in that you write the story you want to read. You know, if you write it they will come... :)

Robin 2/11/2009 11:50:00 AM  

Writing is definitely giving. It's giving a part of ourselves with the hope that the reader will take something away from it. Hopefully something good. :)

Kath Calarco 2/11/2009 12:47:00 PM  

I write for me first because that's where the story comes from - me. Hopefully, others will want to read it, but seriously, if I try writing what I think readers want, I won't get my story out the way it speaks to me.

Lisa 2/11/2009 01:09:00 PM  

I was distracted by all the cute kitty images! :-)
Writing is giving for sure.
I think they really need to write because they NEED to write in order to be.

Hence why I haven't written in so long, I've found some other reasons to be that don't make me want to run out of my house screaming.

spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:55:00 PM  

Marcia, that's the truth! To let them know we understand is SO much how I approach it!

(A one-person mountain station in the middle of the Andes? LOL! Marcia, where do you come up with this stuff?!)

spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:55:00 PM  

LOL, and that says it all, Susan!

spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:56:00 PM  

Aimless, I sure could use a vacation of the mind, let me tell you!


spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:56:00 PM  

Wow, Eric. See, I envy that. I never had the storytelling gene. I had to work at it. Maybe because we never sat around making up stories! That's cool!

spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:57:00 PM  

Edie, isn't that the truth? What a great way to explain it! I haven't read that book in a long time. I like it!

spyscribbler 2/11/2009 01:58:00 PM  

Zoe and Bevie, YES! That's it! We have to understand--and maybe even love a little bit--the unlikable.


Marilyn Brant 2/11/2009 11:56:00 PM  

Excellent post.

I was watching American Idol this week and noticed something similar--the performers I really cheered for were the ones that made me FEEL something. They were singing songs they loved, yes, but their intention seemed to be to help us feel their love, not merely to impress us with their vocals.

Georgie B 2/12/2009 06:31:00 AM  

I initially wrote for me, but once I started getting positive (and negative) feedback on my writing, I tried to write for everyone else.

I'm still trying to find the perfect mix for my regular writing (dark without being overly offensive), but with my blogging, I've hit the world with both barrels blasting.

I think I've made my blogging come alive with the writing style and emotion that is contained within.

With my blogging, I definitely write for the reader first, and for me a very distant second.

Pink Ink 2/12/2009 12:47:00 PM  

Spy, lovely thoughts. I don't consciously want readers to feel loved, but when I share something of my deepest self, I feel like in essence I am giving them an unconditional gift.

I love taking readers along for a suspenseful ride.

But when I write a gut-feeling emotional piece, that brings me the MOST satisfaction.

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:51:00 PM  

Janna, I believe that to be true, at least! :-) Part of my love of writing is a love for people. Just, as a human race, we are fascinating creatures!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:52:00 PM  

Amy, you do, that's true! I tend to be a little selfish as a blogger, but I do try to be a good writer. :-)

It always comes down to story, doesn't it?

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:54:00 PM  

Melanie, this is true! I hope they'll come, at least. :-)

I'm trying to learn how to write for myself this year. I hope it works!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:56:00 PM  

Robin, good point! We hope they take something away from it. And that it's good! :-)

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:58:00 PM  

Kath, whatever works. :-) I'm not sure I write what my readers want... more like what I imagine they need. (Not in an educational, stuff-down-your-throat way!) And also, how can I present this in the way they will most hear it?

Kind of like talking to children: they might THINK we're talking for our own pleasure, but we're really trying to communicate in a way that reaches them. :-)

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 10:59:00 PM  

Lisa, I am in LOVE with that first kitty image! I love it so much! It is so tender and cute and adorable.

I almost went out and got a new kitten because of it. But I just can't handle the number FIVE.

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:00:00 PM  

Marilyn, I really need to start watching that show. I am SO late to the game!

I agree. Performing is communication, and communication is never a one-way street.

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:02:00 PM  

Georgie, that's a good point. It is a mix. I balance it a bit. I think.

I guess, for me, my stories and characters would just as happily live in my head if I didn't need the money, LOL. I wouldn't sleep, but that's okay! :-)

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:05:00 PM  

Jewel, me, too! I love the "spent" feeling after really putting myself and my characters through the ringer. And it's great because when you do that, it almost always connects with the reader!