"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The writer's prayer

As I've mentioned here before, I ain't no writer.

That fact should be painfully obvious to anyone reading this.

But I do write. The topics may be pedestrian, my syntax may be fractured, and I overuse certain words and punctuation, mostly adjectives and commas (which this sentence already contains way too many of), but I still try to pound out something on a semi-regular basis. I do this mostly because it's a creative outlet for me, and occasionally I feel like I actually do have something to say -- not because I like to see my words on the screen or that I'm a comment-whore. (But hey, we bloggers do love the validation of those comments, don't we?)

However, being part of the Blogosphere for the last eight or nine months has brought me into contact with a number of real writers, those with publishing aspirations and serious talent. They write well -- I mean professional-quality well -- and I have developed new respect and admiration for those who can string together words and phrases in such a way as to have an emotional impact on the reader. Some have even made the quantum leap from being simply "writers" to being authors, a major distinction.

The following story is particularly inspirational to me: a young man once professed a desire to become a great writer. When asked to define "great" he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, wail, howl in pain, desperation, and anger!"

Today, he works for Microsoft, writing Excel error messages. Dreams do come true.

It's not that I was illiterate before discovering blogs, mind you, but I just never paid much attention to writing as a process or a discipline. Books and magazine articles were just there -- like dishes or furniture, or any other household object -- and I never thought much about what went into creating them. But now that I've developed an appreciation for the dedication that goes into the craft of writing, the following "writer's prayer", penned by one Rachael Sauer of Cox News Service and lifted from todays newspaper, makes sense to me. It invokes the memory of Christopher Marlowe, a Renaissance playwright and poet widely regarded alongside William Shakespeare as one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time, and is a plea that writers can recite to atone for their literary sins:

Hail Marlowe, full of truth
And the rightful use of adjectives
Give us this day our artful phrase
And cast from us all histrionics
And car chases.
Forgive us our Jonathan Livingston Seagull
As we forgive Erich Segal.
And yea, though we walk through the shadow of the Valley of The Dolls
We will fear no pulp fiction
For thou art with us.

I dedicate this to all the real writers out there. You know who you are. Maybe some day I'll be able to join your ranks. I've got a hope, and now, a prayer to go with it.


The Writer, by Diana Golledge


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