Writing is Absurd

As counterpoint to yesterday’s post, I wanted to write about the absurdity of writing.

People claim to write due to a whole litany of reasons that all sound good on paper: truth, art, beauty, to persuade, to improve society, to communicate truth or to transcend this particular moment/make something that lasts. The fact is however, most writing will not be read in a meaningful way, and of that tiny fraction that is read or popular, only a tiny fraction has a chance of being read ten years from now… let alone a hundred. For any of the above stated goals, for any sort of work that is generally considered ‘meaningful,’ a would-be aspiring writer would most likely be better off investing their time they would spend writing into making money, and then using that money to influence society in ways that are meaningful to them/support better artists.

While we dress it up in fancy words (as we dress up *everything* in fancy words) the truth is, most writers write simply because they have the itch to write. At best it is a simple itch, a single story that wants to get out. At worst it is a constant pressure, similar to that or a dairy cow that wants for milking. Writers excrete stacks of words because they need to, and then elevate, glamorize this process, pinning some higher motive beyond absurd cognitive relief after the fact.

These word stacks are never the experience they harken to, and as such are paltry and withered in comparison. Even worse, the word stacks can get in the way of seeing, understanding, taking part of the experience; the sign and symbol replacing the reality and encouraging people to live in a threadbare map rather than the territory.

The vast majority of writing -and hence the writing most writers can reasonably expect to create- is (at best) masturbatory; that is to say, a fun way to spend some time that is not really of interest to most others. And at worst, most writing is solipsistic, trapping writers and cognition in a simplified world of their own without touching or making a mark to the world at large (or drawing attention from it).

Many years ago, I was given the advice that if you can quit writing, you should do so. For better or for worse, I can’ quit; and hence will do my best to own my absurdities, my inadequacies as a writer striving to be the best I can be (while still keeping in mind that this is an often absurd exercise).

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