It was late at night. I was driving back in my car on the open road. As I was cruising on the empty highway, I observed all that was around me: mainly there was darkness, the blackness of the night. Up there a beautiful streak of stars shone brightly on me. The city behind me was quiet, contemplative, slowly sinking in its nightly slumber after another long hard day.
After the highway I took a right turn. I stopped on a small bridge that overlooked part of the city with a nice view of the city lights.
I turned off the car, opened the glove compartment and reached inside. It was empty, except for a bottle of beer. That was usually where I hid my stash.
I got out, cracked the top of the bottle open by hitting it against the floor and started walking on the bridge. The view was beautiful, the calm absolutely taking over everything else. I felt transported into another universe; a place with only alcohol and serenity.
There were no noises, no complaints, no screams, no sounds, no cries – just the natural landscape my eyes feasted on and the sweet taste of the beer I gulped.
I was observing everything with a curious, ignorant, contemplative, interested, disinterested stare: you see, that is what I did. That is what I believe most writers do. Observe, contemplate, stare, gaze at the world around them. Learn its mechanisms, understand its functions, analyze its people.
There is so much more to writing than simple inspiration. There is observation and that, I believe, is equally important for a writer.
To be able to learn about things – real things – and reproduce them is one of the many talents a writer should possess.
He is destined to write about the things he experiences and goes through – things that others go through and experience.
Without his voice these things remain just that: things. Simple, rigid, stationary things. The writer breathes life into them. The writer gives them soul.
That is why each and every writer must write about himself. He must write about his experience, about his world. He must look into his heart and try to recreate it as faithfully as he can.
Writers who imitate others cheat themselves out of writing. They are frauds, and they remain just that: imitators. They will never come close to replicating the original.
And that’s one of the beauties of writing: it has secrecy and authenticity. It belongs to each and every writer differently. It takes from their world and showcases their hearts and minds and experiences and souls to the watching world.
Another thing: conviction. Conviction in writing a true story, conviction in writing a personal story. Because at the end of the day, nothing matters more to a person than their own life, their own struggles, their own problems, their own triumphs. Their joys, their sorrows, their sufferings, their pains. No one or nothing will ever match or replace those feelings.
They should be a guideline, a starting point to the writer. They should outline his writing.
A writer should always – and only – write about what he knows.
Don’t go into fantasy if you’re not up for it. If fantasy isn’t part of your life than don’t write about it. It will only make it less believable to others.
If you’ve never experienced romance or taken a girl out on a date then don’t write romantic stories. Don’t write about unfulfilled love.
If your life isn’t a horror show or a string of miserable and unfortunate events then don’t write thrillers or go near the horror genre. It will only make it less credible.
Be serious about writing. Be serious about what you choose to write. Be serious and respectful of that amazing craft.
In the end, it is simply a tool in your hands. Think of it as a paint brush and the world your entire canvas. Think of the possibilities, the style, the technique, the colors, the effects you want to draw from to complete your painting.
And when all is said and done, look into your heart and ask yourself: is it a true reflection of my being? Is this what I look like, sound like, talk like, act like, feel like?
And if the answer’s no, then change it. Pick up the paint brush and paint. Paint a new picture. And then look again. If you like what you see, then keep it. If you really like it, then treasure it. And if you simply hate it, then show it to the world and start again.
That is the magnificence of writing: it lets us transcend who we are while reminding us we are still human. We are still flawed. We are still imperfect.
Don’t strive to be perfect in writing. Strive to be true in writing. Think of a better world where truth shines from every corner, every angle, every curve, every dark spot – it would easily overtake crime and lies and falsehood and insanity and offense and sin.
Spark change through your craft: first in yourself, and then in the world.
Be an observer. Be a writer. Don’t be an imitator.
There, the beer is empty. The sky is showing traces of the sun. Its rays slowly make their entrance into this forsaken world of ours.
I was still standing on the bridge. I was still holding my only ally: alcohol. But tonight I had uncovered a new truth in me – a new observation I found within myself and my heart – and now was the time to write about it.