by Savannah J. Foley
Why do they call us writers? Sure, we write down symbols onto paper, or type them into rectangles of light, but that’s not what we really do. Anyone who makes little symbols is a ‘writer.’ They might as well call us Breathers. The true purpose of writing, particularly fiction writing, is something we have covered up so much with terms and elitism and industry and genre that we’ve forgotten, or never really knew, the essence of the Craft.
Today I’m going to make sure you fully understand what I’m talking about, because if you truly want to know your purpose and place in the universe, then you must first know the center of your being and the elements of your calling.
So let me tell you what you really are: A maker and artist of Thoughts.
Writing is not about symbols, speech, or words, though we can love them because they are extensions of the true purpose. No, writing is truly about creating and showing images to a reader’s internal eye; creating impressions of senses more internal and real than any painting or movie.
Think of it this way (we’re going to start from the top and work our way down to the building blocks): Ink-shapes on paper are stand-ins for spoken words. Spoken words are stand-ins for meanings inside our heads. It’s the meanings inside our heads that truly matter. Therefore, all communication, whether through speaking, writing, singing, etc., is done to express our internal feelings and ideas. When you write you are engaging in a form of telepathy; your ink-shapes allow us to share thoughts.
That is why connotation (the implied meaning of a word, versus denotation, the dictionary definition of a word) is so important. Connotation tells you how to feel about a word, separate from its technical meaning. That is why writing is a careful dance balancing fact with interpretation, and as conductors of this dance we choose what senses and emotions to show our audience, putting on a performance that exists solely inside their heads, the words on a page like a movie reel playing out a scene the audience can participate in and modify.
Is it any wonder so few people understand the importance of writing, or our call to it?
From now on, when you are working on your projects, I challenge you to consider this concept and remember that you are ultimately creating a work of thought-art. This outlook has helped me through all of my novels and brought me back on track when my writing seemed shallow, or when I told too much instead of showing it.
Humans are storytellers. Stories are how we access our emotional side. There is more wisdom in a story with a moral than a simple sentence that essentially states the same fact. Remember that; remember why we have stories and your role in creating them. Remember that every time you sit down to write you are taking a paintbrush to the mind of your readers and painting them a new world.
I feel I should end this article with something spiritual, so Selah, all you artists of the mind, and have a wonderful day.
Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.