A few months ago, Jeffrey Archer was down in my city for a small talk + book signing session. I’ve never even read a single one of the guy’s books in my life so it didn’t really interest me unlike some of my best friends.
However, I (LITERALLY) bumped into him in the mall and upon being shoved aside by his security men decided to go and check what the big deal was about anyway.
He spoke to a completely mixed crowd of readers, all waiting to register his words into eternal rock in their minds. He spoke about the art of writing, about his books, his characters, his inspirations and stuff like that. Questions asked were handled with precision and accuracy, something I thought was greatly admirable. However Archer said something which I do not believe in whatsoever, and hence decided, to never EVER read his books come what may. He said that not everyone can write.
To be precise, he said that not everyone can become a writer, not everyone can write a best seller and pretty much no one can write a number one best seller, all of which I choose to disagree with.
Firstly, writing is little but a form of expression, those who lay more than necessary emphasis upon the term are merely deluded by ‘great’ writers like Archer. It all lies in a simple question, what do you wish to express?
I believe that everyone has something to say to the world, or to whom so ever may listen, every single day. It may be a thought that struck them while staring into the sky, it may be a story, an anecdote, an incident, it may merely be about their pain or joy, it may be a dedication, a tribute, a query of the universe and its ways, it may simply be a statement of belief or lack of it, it may be something that dawned upon them after 10 years, or maybe 50, every one has something to say.
And here is what I believe, no, what I KNOW, EVERYONE CAN. ANYONE CAN.
I began my Masters in English Literature last week, and in explaining why they took the course, a vast majority of my classmates either said that they did so to learn the language better or because they loved Literature. I, on the other hand, took it for exactly the opposite reason. I took it because I hate everything it stands for.
We begin in the first semester with a good dose of Chaucer and Shakespeare, and I know in the semesters to come, we proceed to subject like Literary Criticism wherein the cannons are questioned (can’t wait for that!).
I am studying literature because I want to find my way of telling the world that what still is given 4 or 7 papers to study before criticizing (the cannons of British Literature) doesn’t really deserve that much space in my life, to use a direct metaphor.
Let me use a purposeful understatement to tell you what I feel about studying Shelley-Byron-Elliot, classics are cool, but they are never going to be more important than what I see and feel everyday, and encapsulating/reading about that.
I remember, sometime in my first year of undergrad college, I was pulled up for talking to a friend during a lecture and asked by my lecturer, (as we were doing an essay by R K Narayan) ”DO YOU THINK YOU CAN WRITE AS WELL AS R K NARAYAN? HOW DARE YOU TALK WHILE WE DO A TEXT BY HIM?” I chose to stay silent about what I felt that day, but the moment I was asked I knew my answer, HELL YEAH I CAN WRITE AS WELL AS NARAYAN! I just don’t write LIKE Narayan, and guess what, I DON’T NEED TO!
Which brings me to my point, you don’t need to write like Shakespeare or Archer for that matter to be able to write, all you need to do is write like YOURSELF, and tell the world what you WANT to tell the world.
Maybe you won’t get to the number one best seller spot with Archer there to hog it all the time, but write for yourself, write because you think the world deserves to hear what you have to say, don’t write because you want to compete to get on the best seller list somewhere or get ‘freshly pressed’ on WordPress. I want to get to the best seller list too someday, but only because I want more people to be able to see what I write, not because I believe that that in ANY way validates what I write.
A professor of mine said in one of her lectures that the course we are doing would transform us, and I believe that she is completely right. However, it isn’t because of the ‘truths’ in the texts, it is because they act as catalysts to make us think, write to be a catalyst. Write, to make someone think. You don’t need fancy words or rhyming lines to do that, all you need is a voice, which you have.
When asked, I NEVER say I want to be a writer. I already AM a writer. Do I want to be a well known writer? Sure! Who doesn’t? Am I going to become like Archer or Shakespeare or Narayan to do that? NO WAY. Am I going to let them tell me my limits or let them frame my sentences or influence my style? AS IF.
This week’s message of good faith is simple, each of you have something to say and CAN say it by writing if you choose to do so. Each one of us CAN be writers, EACH ONE OF US.
My message is for each of you to look for your own style and exercise and hone it the best you can, you are better than Shakespeare (believe me you are! Three fourths of the world would probably hang themselves before they read an original Shakespearean text!), just look and find the best in you. Write because you feel like it, because you want to, because you think someone may relate to it somewhere (someone always does!), and most importantly, write, because you can.