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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder
The Frog
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No One Can Hear Me Scream

The purpose of writing can be but hardly ever is the mere conveyance of information.

Jonathan Swift

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Presentation Is Everything.

That I knew I would write this book someday is so far gone into the hazy mists of my memory that I could not hope to tell you when I arrived at that understanding. But I can pinpoint my decision to actually commence writing it at January 30, 2009. That was the day I announced my Essay for All Humanity in my Kuro5hin diary.

I was so confident I could start writing as to announce it in such a public way because I knew that after twenty-four years of constant, laborious, often excruciatingly painful searching, I was finally in possession of absolutely everything my book would need to say. Only much later did I realize that my decision was premature. I found myself struggling with a strange difficulty whenever I set into work. It was when I realized the utter impossibility of writing so much as my very first word that I finally understood what blocked me:

While I knew what to say, I did not know how to say it. I had every fact required in my own hands, but no clue as to how to convey those facts into the hands of my readers.

The purpose of writing can be but hardly ever is the mere conveyance of information. The difference between the Pulitzer Prize - or even the Nobel Prize - and never getting to quit your day job has nothing to do with the plot, the storyline, the position one takes or the arguments one makes, but a mysterious, rare and poorly understood state of mind that the best writers all possess but that the worst can never hope to. Every writer knows that this state of mind exists and so seeks it relentlessly. Despite decades spent at my own writing, I don't know the proper name for it, so I will call this state of mind The Writer's Craftsmanship.

Our ability to write is one of the very few things that truly defines humanity. Most children begin learning to write long before starting school by singing The Alphabet Song - I myself can sing it both in English and in German. Almost all of us write in a systematic way through high school graduation, many through college, then in informal ways for the rest of our lives through letters, emails, and material written for our work.

I know that even those who most would regard as completely illiterate are often accomplished writers: the essence of writing is not any kind of marks on paper, stone or computer screens, but the story. Many who cannot read or write their own names captivate audiences by telling stories they made up themselves, or compose movingly soulful lyrics and poems. Thus we see that humanity's discovery of writing far predated our ability to record our written work in any lasting way. The very first permanently recorded stories themselves far predated the invention of the written word by telling the stories in a visual way through cave paintings.

Some claim that true writers are not made, but born. I hasten to disagree, as I am convinced that absolutely everyone possesses the capacity to write in the most inspired way. Their mistake is understandable, as the method by which such uncommon ability is obtained remains a complete mystery to us all. Study, practice and dogged persistence are all known to be required, yet many devote their entire lives to the writer's craft, only to find themselves at the end of their days looking back with naught but disappointment and despair.

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