You Call Yourself A Writer, But Are You A Real Writer?

Real writers can write about anything. Yes, I said “real” writers. Get a rope, or better yet, a computer. There’s going to be a lexical lynching.

Before you hang me, let me explain. This might be a hugely unpopular (or misunderstood) statement to make on Medium where writers of every genre and level come to share the craft. However, where one might fall on the spectrum regarding an ability to convey a point, tell a story or translate emotion is relative only to their personal reason for writing and not germane to the point I’d like to make. As was emphasized recently, writing can be many things and the reason(s) people write are just as varied and valid to which I concur, absolutely. When I qualify a writer as “real”, I'm referring to great writers, writers who are true artists. They don’t simply write it they paint it.

Great writers, those who are rocks-in-your-pockets, insanely obsessed and consumed by the craft of writing can write about anything and make us see it, feel it, taste it, want it, hate it, and so forth because their minds are touched by such creative genius many of us can only ponder, let alone emulate. They have something extraordinary, a creative essence or ability to bewitch us or capture our imagination by expertly turning words on a page into a virtual reality, and sadly they don’t come along everyday. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good writers on Medium, but I won’t throw down great quite so easily.

Give a real writer a writing prompt like “door knob” and they’ll probably slam you with five or six hundred words containing enough creative genius to shame you into shutting your mouth and your computer for a month, at least.

I know. I know what you’re thinking. Art, including writing, is fully loaded with munitions of aesthetics and subjectivity; therefore, we will and often do differ on what we like to read, and what we consider great or even good.

But let me better define this idea of aesthic subjectivity and put you on the hook a bit regarding giving great writers their due.

I emphatically believe we have an innate human sense that recognizes genius and the perfect execution of an artistic craft, whether we understand the genre or even like it. In short, human beings Have an innate ability to recognize when they’re in the presence of greatness and we ought to be connoisseurs of greatness rather than expecting mediocrity in ourselves and others.

An example, though unrelated to writing. A couple years ago, my spouse and I were visiting Brisbane, Australia where the tourist areas are often full of street performers. One afternoon, I was wandering through this wonderful outdoor mall on the riverfront when drifting towards me from a distance was the most amazing voice I’d ever heard. As I drew nearer to it, helpless to do anything else, I saw a barefoot woman in a simple flower print dress who appeared to be an Aboriginal Australian Native. She was singing Ave’ Maria, a cappella. I gawked like the American idiot I am. It blew my fucking mind. I looked around the growing crowd to see people from every age and walk of life imaginable gawking too with the same glassy eyed amazement while the pile of money at her feet grew. We were all transfixed by the same thing; we recognized greatness when we were in the presence of it.

Very recently, I discovered writer, Hope Mirrlees (1887–1978) in this unexpected way. I’d never heard of her, so I was unprepared and unbiased when I plucked her book from a bargain bin. As I read the opening pages of her classic fantasy novel Lud-In-The-Mist, a genre I’ve never been particularly drawn to, I was suddenly and completely captivated; I felt my mind reel in response to a relentless succession of beautifully crafted phrases and pictorial descriptions of a place only existing in her imagination.

Notably, my body reacted too, and I caught my breath bursting forth in short pants, exhales of amazement, much like I did when I’d heard the woman singing Ave’ Maria on the mall.

At that moment, I knew I was reading a real writer, and I was in the presence of greatness.

S Lynn Knight 2016