by Kelly Baugh
Last time I blogged, I asked why being a writer doesn’t have the same mystique that it once did.
When someone asks me what I do for a living (ha, a living!), and I respond that I’m a writer, I get a fair amount of snarky comments in the vein of, “oh, so you’re one of those people who sit around coffee shops all day playing on your computer.”
Instead of, “how exciting! You are so brave to be an artist.” (I’m pretty sure that was a common response in the days of yore).
But here’s my guess as to at least one reason why there’s been such a shift. Consider the following quote by Francis Bacon: “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”
I think many of us modern day writers, myself included, have shot ourselves in the foot mystery-wise. You can’t turn on your computer without stumbling across self-revelatory blogs (which include a lot of tidbits more appropriate to a personal journal or diary) or a Three Steps to A Successful... writing workshop, or advice from an agent or publisher about an exact formula that writers need to follow. If these things become the sum total of being a writer, mystery has all but disappeared. This isn’t only to the detriment of our “street cred,” but to our art too.
Here’s another great quote: "If love is blind, marriage is the eye-opener.” I think we could substitute the art of writing vs. the business of writing into this one.
Just like the way love changes within a marriage, the business of writing is a reality that we must face if any of us hope to make a living at our craft or want an audience to share in what we’ve created. However, there must still be the unknown, the spontaneity, the passion that first drew us to our love (writing) in the first place, otherwise we’ve lost the ability to participate in mystery, something that is inherent in all great writing.
To the right is a box of candies I bought for my daughter’s Christmas stocking. Under the word Strawberry, is the further description of the candies’ flavor: Fairy Wood Fragrance.
What the heck is Fairy Wood Fragrance? I don’t know. But it intrigued me enough to buy the candies. It also leads anyone who samples one to ponder the flavor as they suck away, something they probably wouldn’t do for a peppermint or lemon jelly bean.
Mystery. These candies have it in spades. Maybe our writing and our process should strive to have a little more of it too.