|Picture by T.L. Gray - Olympic National Park - 05/30/2013|
There are all kinds of people who make up the writing community, where not everyone is alike; it’s filled with diversity and a panacea of talent. Just as we are all individuals, our tastes, styles and skills are exercised in diversity. Differences sometimes set us apart, or even pull us together, through the impassioned expressions of our preferences. These differences don’t make us right or wrong, just individual, but there seems to a consensus to the contrary and the spark of much debate.
In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, I had an epiphany moment when I tried to describe how I saw this person and the way they related to our philosophical inspirations. The conversation went a little like this:
“But, I see the way you look at the world - you seek what's behind the obvious and try to peek into the depths to 'understand'. You don't just like a poem for its rhythm and pacing (which you do enjoy), but you take Bukowski's words and meditate on them, and contemplate who, what, where, when, how and why behind the poem, applying it into your life to see if you relate. You're more interested in what McCarthy means than how he wrote his stories (that's the way you are with literary too - and why you don't understand this focus on 'style', because you can live with style changes, but you can't deal with a story that doesn't mean something.
“It's one of the first things I noticed about you. You're like an explorer - wanting to know what's beyond the wilderness, unafraid to venture off the common paths to blaze new trails. Yet, you're surrounded by a bunch of conformists who think following the established and popular trail is the only way to go. They're following the person in front of them; you're following no one but your heart.”
As Cormac McCarthy states above, “I don’t know why I started writing,” I too often have to take stock of who I am and determine what I believe, because I’m going to have to hang onto those beliefs as I enter the writing world, shielding them from the bombardment of different opinions, and confidence in myself to make the decision that will be right for me. I’ll only know what the right thing will be – because I’ll know who I am as a woman; as a writer.
We must think for ourselves, be trailblazers and visionaries, lest me fall into line with the conformists and lose our vision, our way and what truly makes us individual by trying to fit in. That path may be the comfortable and worn, but it’s also one that produces art, work and writings like everyone else. Being ‘common’ may sell books, but if you want to touch souls, you must be faithful to your gift and brave enough to be lead by your heart, because it is rarely popular.