Writing is an immortal profession. Think about it – being an author is one of the few careers wherein age discrimination doesn’t exist. In fact, older writers are often more well-respected for their craft than younger ones, by even the youngest of readers. In our society, where disrespect for the elderly is both acceptable and encouraged, writing is one of the rare fields where age is not an automatic dismissal of your value to the world. You never heard an avid reader say, “Oh, I can’t read that author. She’s too old.”
Yes, it may happen among some idiots who never read a book after high school. But, among people with brains (and yes, I am insinuating if you are literate and never read books, you have no brain), authors are never ousted due to being “too old” or “too young”. All that matters is the quality of the writing; The stories themselves. No one gives a crap about the age of the writer. 19 or 90 makes no difference.
(Screenwriters can be dismissed due to age, but that’s because most middle-management people running film studios are idiot douchebags in their 30s and 40s who can’t read anything other than “BMW”… Painters. Perhaps painters and illustrators enjoy such a timelessness too. But I can think of no other professions, not even creative ones, wherein age is irrelevant. Only writers. Certainly, actors and directors and dancers enjoy no such immortality.)
What inspired this realization; that being a writer means being immortal?
During the spring of 2013, I finally read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury; The first book he ever published. Immediately afterward, I started reading the sequel, Farewell Summer; one of the last books Ray Bradbury published before his untimely death at the far-too-young age of 91.
Now, here’s the part that got me thinking about immortality and time travel. I know, I didn’t mention time travel yet, but I am now: Writing is also a profession of time travel.
Dandelion Wine takes place in 1923. The book was published in 1957 and Farewell Summer was published 50 years later. This is fascinating to me, because by my own personal perception, these books are brand new. Within my own imagination, these stories have never existed before. In my sphere of knowledge, Farewell Summer and Dandelion Wine exist simultaneously.
Any 10 year old boy who read Dandelion Wine in 1957 had to wait until he was 60 years old to read the sequel. He waited a lifetime! But the characters hadn’t aged a day! They remained the same people they always were.
Then you have me – someone who read Dandelion Wine, then got to instantly skip over the next 50 years, and keep right on going with Farewell Summer. The full impact of that hit me as I picked up the second book – I just jumped 50 years ahead through a time portal! This wasn’t a metaphorical experience – within seconds, I literally skipped ahead 50 years in Ray Bradbury’s life.
Strange, isn’t it? Writing is quite literally a profession of immortality and time travel. No exaggeration. We can live forever and fly past decades in a heartbeat.
Ray Bradbury famously and frequently repeated the same story about being a young boy and meeting a sideshow performer named Mr. Electrico, who touched an electrified sword to Ray’s nose, and demanded that Ray, “Live forever!”
Indeed we can say Mr. Bradbury has obeyed that lifelong command. So too, do all writers. No matter if you only write one book in your lifetime or you write everyday for more than 70 years, as Ray Bradbury did, you are still among the immortals. You have created something to give to the world. You have made a gift to share. What will your gifts be? Spooky? Hateful? Loving? Compassionate? Inspirational? Educational? Perhaps just plain fluff and fun?
Whatever path you decide to take, keep your eternal life in perspective. By “eternal life” I’m not talking about religion or an afterlife – I’m talking about the immortality you are given as a writer. Keep that eternity in perspective – for what you write at the age of 19 will become your legacy at the age of 97. All of it remains connected to the pallet which paints the portrait of who you are, and what you gave to mankind. Make sure that the things you leave to this world will make your fellow man grateful that you were here at all. Make sure that when you depart this earth, people will lament that you didn’t have enough time to write just one more book, share one more idea, express one more thought – because they so loved all the books, ideas and thoughts you shared earlier, and they now cherish even more deeply, all that which came before.
You too, are going to do as Mr. Electrico commanded.
There is a famous old saying, “Stupid people will never understand what you mean, when you point out they are dumb.”
I know you’ve never heard it before. I made it up myself. Trust me, though. It’s a famous saying. I’m just ahead of my time.
As an author, you will always have some idiot reading your work and attempting to make a commentary upon it. Only after reading said commentary do we come to realize – what they think they read, and what we were truly conveying, are two completely different things. Like not remotely close.
You remember that scene in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off when principal Rooney says, “I don’t trust this kid any further than I can throw him!”
And his secretary replies, “Well, with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn’t throw anybody.”
The poor woman honestly thinks she understands the conversation. Naturally, he just glares at her for being a blithering idiot. She has no clue.
That’s how many people in this world behave – they are utter imbeciles with zero reading comprehension skills, but they honestly think they are bright and insightful.
Nothing is more exasperating than attempting an intellectual debate with boneheaded morons who honestly perceive themselves to be keen and intelligent.
I just read an essay about Severus Snape, the character from the Harry Potter series of books, where some insipid girl calls Snape “creepy”, because he never got over Lily Potter. The essay goes on and on for 1400 words and all I could think was, “You don’t get it.”
For one thing, I loathe the word “creepy” because it’s become an unimaginative feminist-Nazi cop-out insult. Back in the 1950′s, everyone you didn’t approve of was a “square”, the 1980′s people were “dweebs”, and today they are “creepy”.
A guy you don’t like, gives you flowers? Creepy.
A guy you don’t like, tries to walk you home from school? Creepy.
A guy you don’t like, calls you on the phone? Creepy.
A guy you don’t like, asks you to lunch? Creepy.
Fuck you. You self-important little whores. “Creepy” should be defined by ones actions, not by how good-looking a person happens to be. And we all know damn well, the only reason those guys are deemed “creepy” is because of how they look. Their actions aren’t “weird”. Their actions aren’t offensive. Their looks are offensive. After all, if a hot guy does the exact same actions, it’s not “creepy” at all. Right? When a hot guy gives you flowers, walks you home from school, calls you on the phone, or asks you to lunch, that shit isn’t creepy. When you like the guy, he is called “sweet” and “thoughtful” and even “romantic” for doing those things. And when you don’t like the guy, he’s “creepy” and “weird” for doing that same stuff.
You. Are. A. Fucking. Asshole.
“Creepy” is a basement full of baby embryos in formaldehyde jars. Okay? Doesn’t matter if the guy is a Greek Adonis or Marty Feldman, that shit is creepy. Asking a girl out to lunch, or a guy pining away for an unrequited love, is not creepy. Not remotely. Not even a little bit.
Stupid girl has no clue what the story of Harry Potter is about and has no understanding of the character of Snape.
“Well, with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn’t throw anybody.”
Ah, yes. But one could never articulate her ignorance back to her in a way she could comprehend. Her brain didn’t process the same story that everyone else did.
The worst part is the fact that among 60 comments, most people agree with the author and say that Snape was an awful person and he bullied everyone. “Bullied” – there’s another overused word (along with “creepy”) which feels like someone glued sand to my toiletpaper everytime I hear it.
Snape was never a bully. Naturally, anyone familiar with the story goes back to the singular scene between him and Dumbledore when Snape says, “No one can know.”
To me, that single sentence made it blindingly obvious that everything Snape did was all an act! He was meant to play the part of the “bad cop” at Hogwarts, so people wouldn’t trust him. So people wouldn’t like him. All of his mean-spirited actions were a ruse to help ensure his false-loyalty to Voldemort would be more believable. I know I’m correct, because Dumbldore replies with, “That I shall never reveal the best of you, Severus?” In other words, all the good of Snape is to be deliberately kept hidden. Harry goes on to call Snape “the bravest man I’ve ever known”. How the hell did all these idiots who whine about Snape being a “bully” miss those incredibly obvious plot points? It’s spelled out right in front of them! And here’s 60 idiots on the Internet who don’t get it at all. They saw a very different story from the rest of us.
Spend more than 5 minutes on the Internet. Read comments from people in forums, or on news articles, and you will quickly see most people are mentally retarded and severely lacking in basic reading comprehension skills. As I said earlier, what an article actually says, and the message people read, are often very different things. You’ll often end up scratching your head thinking, “What!? Do these people even understand what this article was about!?”
The same thing has happened in my own writing. While my novel The Gothic Rainbow is praised and beloved by many people, I have also gotten negative criticism for meaningless dialog and trivial conversations. However, these readers were apparently too ignorant to understand, that was deliberate! One of the many sayings you hear with writing is, “Show, don’t tell.”
In other words, don’t just describe things, but illustrate them. If you have shallow and vapid characters in a story, show them behaving in a way which is shallow and vapid. Don’t simply describe them as being worthless and insipid, because where’s the fun in that? Being told, “This character is an idiot” is not as fun as reading about that character doing something idiotic.
So, yes, I have shallow dialog in order to show how shallow some characters are.
But, some people seemed to miss that.
There was a popular video on YouTube recently about a mother who saw The Matrix for the first time and she admitted to closing her eyes throughout multiple scenes, so she missed pivotal moments in the film. She kept on calling Morpheus by the name of “Moshimo” for some reason… Moshimo!? How the fu – ? Anyway, my point is, stupid people are very eager and willing to comment on things without fully understanding what the hell they are talking about. I know, I know. You’re saying, “But, Eric. That video was just good clean fun. Some innocent old lady was all baffled by The Matrix? That sounds entertaining. Where is the harm? You’re making too big of an issue of out something trivial.”
No. Willful ignorance is never fun, or entertaining, or trivial. It’s a loathsome perversion to revel in and celebrate stupidity. I’m not saying everyone must be an expert in every field of knowledge on earth. But I am saying, why bother to watch the movie if you’re going to keep your eyes closed most of the time?
See, as a writer, I put shit on paper for a fucking reason. Story ideas exist due to careful thought. Names of characters carry inherent symbolism. When some braindead bitch is giggling about “Moshimo” instead of “Morpheus” and admits to not even watching parts of a film, it drives me crazy, because it’s a slap in the face to the artists who worked very hard to construct that story.
As my oft quoted and idolized favorite writer (well, he’s one of them, not my only favorite), Harlan Ellison said, “We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions.”
And he was right. No one is entitled to be a fucking dipshit. But, hey, you know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m wrong. Who cares if some mindless little old lady is too much of a prissy hippie bitch to keep her eyes open during The Matrix? It’s just a movie. Doesn’t really matter. And you know something?; You’re right. The future of humanity doesn’t pivot on some broad watching a Keanu Reeves movie. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe it’s a shitty example. Fine.
Nevertheless, I stand behind my indignation at the principal of lauding willful ignorance. Perhaps that old lady watching The Matrix is a bad example, but the theme I’m trying to speak out against is still valid.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. Others see it happening too. The dumbing-down of culture is rampant. You need no more proof than the television and the Internet to see it happening. Point out atrocious grammar in Internet posts and no one apologizes for it; people are proud of it.
Like I said, what is written and what is read are often very different things. The mental processes firing off in those 5 cells of brain matter couldn’t recharge a watch battery.
The point of this rant is simply this – as a writer, don’t take it personally when you are misquoted or misunderstood by the brainless denizens of humanity. Their ignorance is endless and encountering such mindlessness is an exponential inevitability of gaining notoriety. As farmers say, “The further you spread out into the field, the more cowshit you’re going to step in.”
Sorry. I lied. Honestly, I made up that phrase too. Farmers never say that. I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything either, but the metaphor sure feels right.
Some people obviously won’t understand the metaphor, but unfortunately I can’t really explain it anymore clearly.
After all, stupid people will never understand what you mean, when you point out they are dumb.