I mulled over some questions for a while. I had to find the answers. Feel free to add yours.
Who is a writer? How is she or he related to the society? What are the responsibilities of a writer? What is the objective or objectives of a writer? Why do they write at all?
Writing is a profession, like carpentry or engineering, like a medical practitioner or a scientist. It is a role played by a person as much as a teacher or a labourer does. The writer produces something and there is a consumer base for it. The content of this production comes from the base and is offered back to the base. A writer observes the world and relates that observation in the mythical tradition of a story.
The story is as much about the other as it is about oneself, for one is part of the whole and never removed from it. But to get a perspective from the observation, the writer steps aside, as it were, from the subject and recounts as faithfully as possible, as skilfully as possible, the many interesting facets of the subject under consideration. It is hard work. It has its due diligence. It originates from the primary motive to share, to partake, of one’s observation and to look obliquely at oneself through the characters one creates.
While a story is a work of fiction, a figment of the writer’s imagination, the basic premises and tenets on which the story rests must necessarily reflect what is observed in the real world. This is the writer’s primary responsibility. To hold up a mirror, as it were, to reflect that which is seen clearly by the writer, that which is glimpsed darkly by the reader. The implication is that the writer is a seeker of truth, paradoxically, even though the entire work is presented as fiction. Fiction is not falsehood. Fiction is a way of presenting the truth in a manner that is easily received.
It is a singularly solitary effort. It is a struggle within oneself to bring out one’s deepest thoughts and urges on matters that concern the world in general. Matters that one glosses over in the immediacy of everyday life. The writer essays to shed light on the dark corners of our lives, those feelings and emotions and thoughts that we so feel deeply but never fully come face to face to study in silent contemplation. The writer does all the hard work and presents the kernel of observations as a simple lucid story. The skill of the writer is of paramount importance in engaging the reader. In revealing the observations little by little without smiting the sensibility of the reader.
Fiction writing is not the product of a formula. It is not the outcome of a series of planned and tested sequence of operations. It is not imitation, nor a novelty. It is not an invention based on sound scientific or theoretical principles. It sprouts from a seed, a seed that is born of long observation and contemplation. From the seed grows the sapling and if nurtured right becomes the tree that it is meant to become. The tree blossoms and bears fruit. It is for the fruit that every fiction endeavour is aimed at, the fruit that is the work’s culmination. It is this fruit that the reader is offered, bitter or sweet. All that the reader is expected to do is to go along the journey of this growth and receive the reward at the end. It is for this fruit that the reader comes to the writer. It is for this fruit that the writer works so hard to produce. It is this fruit that is advertised and sold in the market. It is this fruit that is overhyped or undersold, ignored or besmirched. It is this fruit that in the end, literally and metaphorically, fulfils the writer’s endeavour.
Where is the market for this fruit? Is it a wrong question? The writer must live of course. There are always the bills to pay. The fruit must sell. He is in the market with his basket of fruit. Are there any takers? The fruit is there on the shelf. The shelf is run by a professional seller. The seller knows which kind of fruit sells and which kind does not, of he or she is a good seller, that is. Eventually, the seller will find a way to sell all his fruit, for after all he or she is in the profession of selling. No stone is left unturned to figure out a way to sell his fruits. The writer’s fruit doesn’t age with time. It neither gets better nor gets worse, though sometimes it has come out in the wrong season, either too early or too late for the season. But it does not ever decay. It thrives on the shelf or simply removed from it and pushed into a corner. It’s time may come or not at all – it depends on the fruit and on the skill of the fruit seller. The producer of the fruit has disappeared: there are other seeds to nurture, other fruits to give birth to.