Monday, October 24, 2005

Do you have a book in you?

Read what Margaret Atwood had to say about this in her book, Negotiating with the Dead - A Writer on Writing.

There's one characteristic that sets writing apart from most of the other arts - its apparent democracy, by which I mean its availability to almost everyone as a medium of expression...

To be an opera singer you not only have to have a voice, you have to train for years; to be a composer you have to have an ear, to be a dancer you have to have a fit body, to act on the stage you have to remember your lines, and so on...

As for writing, most people secretly believe they themselves have a book in them, which they would write if they could only find the time. And there's some truth to this notion. A lot of people do have a book in them - that is, they have had an experience that other people might want to read about. But this is not the same as 'being a writer.'

Or, to put it in a more sinister way: everyone can dig a hole in a cemetry, but not everyone is a grave-digger. The latter takes a good deal more stamina and persistence. It is also, because of the nature of the activity, a deeply symbolic role. As a grave-digger, you are not just a person who excavates. You carry upon your shoulders the weight of other people's projections, of their fears and fantasies and anxieties and supersititions. You represent mortality, whether you like it or not. And so it is with any public role, including that of the Writer, capital W; but also as with any public role, the significance of that role - its emotional and symbolic content - varies over time.


Yes, having a book in you doesn't mean you can write it. That's what ghostwriters are for.

8 comments:

Kak Teh said...

lydia, the same can be said of teaching. You can claim to know a lot of things, but that does not mean you can teach. hmmm, yes, i have so many books in my head, will have to hunt for a ghost soon!

bergen said...

Thank you for sharing this, ma'am.

Lydia Teh said...

KT, you're right there. I also need a ghost, haha.
Bergen, you're most welcome. I put it up because I feel she's hit the nail on the head.

KK said...

A writer needs not to be a writer. So what? Find the salt to feed your stomach first before you could do anything!

Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error. - Andrew Jackson

Nadia said...

and boy!! ghostwriters make a LOT of money too! but being a ghostwriter requires a battle with your ego first..heheh want money or want ur name...heheheh in the end i guess for ghostwriters..money wins :)

Lydia Teh said...

p3p4, feed stomach with salt? Afterwards the stomach get pickled like asam lor. Thanks for sharing the quotation.
Nadia, you're right there. Ghostwriting can be more profitable than royalties!

KK said...

IN ancient Greece it was common to exchange salt for slaves, which resulted in the phrase ‘not worth his salt’. Salt was so valuable in ancient Rome that it was doled out to Julius Caesar’s soldiers as part of their pay, called the salarium from which the word ‘salary’ has been derived.

In every language, culture and religion, salt is the most important element that drives the life force. Mankind seems to have discovered this substance early enough to base all his cultural development on it. Its effect on human system and lives is self- explanatory… for no one can live without salt.

Salt, a miraculous gift of nature, is one of most useful and amazing minerals on Earth derived from the sea and rocks. Do you know that it is the only rock that humans can eat?

Lydia Teh said...

p3p4, salt is good. The bible says of Christians : you are the salt of the earth.