Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Musing: why is there air? (Warning: thinky)

"Why is there air?" asked Bill Cosby on an early comedy album, WONDERFULNESS.

"To fill up basketballs. To fill up pool flotation devices."

Sure! It's that simple. For the persona in Bill Cosby's early comedy album, anyway. That's the important reason that there's air! A sports reason!

But then those of us who BREATHE it say, "If you don't think breathing air is important, try not doing it for a while."

The point being that we are all prisoners of our own viewpoints, and we often react by seeing what we expect to see or what we're accustomed to seeing. Why is air important to the coach? Filling up basketballs. Why is air important to the hot-air balloonist? We've gotta have lift. Why is air important to the rest of us? *cough cough*

But anyway . . . when you're writing, your character will notice what he is inclined to notice. It's probably not the same things about the room that you, a writer, would notice. Or that you, a firefighter, would notice. Or that you, a police officer, would notice. Are there fire exits and are they marked? Is there a place someone could lurk and surprise you? You see what I mean. Always question what you are doing, in the smaller and larger senses.

People who don't question what they're doing aren't usually doing anything important.

Is what you're doing important? Is what you're writing going to be significant to other people's lives? Is it going to make them see the world in a whole new way and encourage them to change their lives accordingly?

In order to understand if what you're doing is worth it, you must question everything. Ask yourself what you're trying to do. So many writers really just want to "have written."

Why do you write? You can try to answer this--and most have tried--but you probably won't be able to come up with a pithy, quotable answer. PLEASE don't cop out with, "I can't not write," because that only means you need a creative outlet of some sort. This isn't your fault. It's like asking "Why do you want to live?" It's not that the answer is bad, but that the question is stupid.

Why do you write? Is it to tell a story? To impart some wisdom and meaning to people's lives? To play with words and string them together into a progression of interesting thoughts? To present an idea that hasn't been presented before? Is it to entertain? To make money? To explain your life or views?

These are all valid reasons. Any combination of these would be a decent explanation. But you should think about which applies to you.

Why? Because if you know what you're doing, or trying to do, you're going to have less doubt about it. You're going to have confidence. You're going to find your mission in life.

And you won't leave this world without fulfilling your eternal destiny.

Your job is to find out what it is, and then start on that path. Now.