What Makes a Writer a Writer (grain of salt included with article)

A writer is the work, finished or not, published or not. It’s always the work, I think. If you’re lucky, after you die someone will read the work and in those moments you will exist.

I like to think of myself as a “posthumist” writer. You want to be a posthumist, I think. And it basically amounts to this:

Realize you are already dead, and have been so for many years.

What is it that you wished you had said in life?

Say it in death.

Posthumist writing doesn’t really exist as a theory beyond this page. It is just something I made up, once upon a time, but I do find myself thinking about the concept and especially while I am working. In life, you barely know your friends and relatives, so who the fuck is a writer?

Words on a page are what the writer amounts to when taken out of the mortal coil, as it were. Unconsciously, I think most writers are their own Doctor Frankenstein, digging words up out of the grave of imagination and stitching it all together. Our monster is the work, existing because of us and eventually coming to define us.

Sure, I suppose it’d be swell for the work to be recognized and to have fame, but fame isn’t something I necessarily want for myself. I am a fairly private person. I want only for the work. I’m happy enough creating and getting the occasional kind correspondence from someone who has read and enjoyed something I’ve written.

My mind is satisfied while also craving more. I like the solitude of writing. Being alone may even be integral to my own disposition. I find nourishment in quiet seclusion the way some find solace in the company of others.

This Virginia Woolf quote has always appealed to me:

“If I never felt these extraordinarily pervasive strains — of unrest or rest or happiness or discomfort — I should float down into acquiescence.”

Externally, I am as afraid of acquiescence as she and I, too, like to live in intensity. But I am able to retreat from intensity, find calm and happiness. Fame does not afford one that pleasure, unless one remains vigilant in their reclusive nature.

I think a satisfied mind is one that continues craving more. To be satisfied and crave no more, that is practically akin to saying “I’m finished.” Bully for the person that’s come to the end of their road, I suppose, but I’ll continue on, thanks.

In that way, writing is like an addiction, of sorts. The act is very compulsory for me. If I don’t indulge, then it becomes ugly and destructive. Better for that to exist on the page than in real life, methinks. The purpose, then, is that my writing keeps me sane. It’s my anchor to the society that I’ve never really felt a part of, as if I were an alien, and this assembly of words were done in part to understand what all this meat is capable of. It’s the only addiction that’s also a chronicle, in the literal sense. Truth through lies, that’s how I’ve heard some describe fiction. Where are you going, where have you been, indeed.

Please, be sure to take your grain of salt.


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