by Matthew Kenneth Kosak
If you cannot write for yourself and are instead, writing for a site or a page, or the ‘internet’ then I would say you’ve compromised something. You’ve given ground that wasn’t required. Who are you writing for, and what kind of writing is that? Certainly not a true expression from the heart, but one that you believe others will approve? And the same could be said, within reason, for your punctuation and even spelling- if they are weighted too heavily with pleasing others, or some exterior standards, we can lose any sense of control.
Look at the great writers who have been published, Ezra Pound, ee. Cummings, T.S. Eliot , Gertrude Stein, I can find specific examples of their work in which spelling and punctuation is deliberately compromised to the benefit of the art. It seems the true voice, the spirit of the work took priority and (if they were considered at all), the technical boundaries were a distant second in these works. And defying them was very likely the point, so how does one criticize that? That they didn’t go far enough? They should have made up more words? Following inspiration without regard to any conventions is risky, but it has advantages. (You the writer are simply being true to the voice and there’s no criticizing that). There is a book of rules one must follow in writing. Very strict ones. Unfortunately, no one knows where they are. All volumes checked out, permanently. My advice would be not to look for them.
As an author facing similar difficulties, of publishing, I would imagine, as you the reader or aspiring author, these ideas go through my mind whenever I’m confronted with a short burst of poetry or a story, and I find there isn’t a single one of those “like” things or possibly even a comment. How was it gauged or perceived? Was it understood? And did anyone actually see it, or is the site malfunctioning and diverting the traffic somewhere else? It’s hard to see where or how anything works on these sites. It’s all invisible and not very predictable. Naturally, as an author who considers these things, you have to wonder how the process works. Especially if you are one of those rare types of author’s who values feedback.
The Rules” of style which include punctuation, spelling, and grammar fade gradually in importance as one walks down the hallway from the non-ficiton department to the fiction department. The rules are there certainly, but if you don’t bend these slightly, you’re characters will speak and sound like College English professors instead of real people.
There is probably an even greater fading of these ‘rules’ as one turns the corner and enters the room called ‘Poetry.’ There is someone in that room. There is always someone in that room with us, (an old task master, a literary icon? Usually dead and buried, but still quite vocal and capable, of reading over our shoulder or perhaps sitting quietly in judgment.] And to read poetry one must look at punctuation and grammatical usage, particularly as it is bent or abused, or twisted, much like CSI investigators, as there is literary intent even in a period or the lack thereof that has meaning to the work. (In the good books, with commentary, you will easily find paragraphs dedicated to the meaning of a period, i.e. if it actually existed, if it was added by mistake by the printer etc. If you’ve looked at the works of Gertrude Stein, or ee cumming’s you know how far modern poetry has diverged from Renaissance forms.
One should not assume that simply because you are on “one of THESE sites” that you won’t find greatness. I have already encountered authors here, who likely guage themselves as readers or struggling writers but actually they’re much better. One never knows. Some are inspiring to me. I think a Socratean outlook is best. You can learn from almost anyone at any level with probably one caveat- that it is true.
I, myself, have to write and then leave the work alone, let it age, because I rarely feel good about it the first time through. Let’s be clear, I never said I post because I’m satisfied with it. It could be brute force effort (this writing business) for all you know: involving straps and anesthetic, a drunken surgeon, and less than hygenic conditions, but alas it arrives highly irregularly, despite this.
<strong>“Writing is actually quite simple, all you have to do is sit at your typewriter and bleed.” –Hemingway</strong>
And I would suggest that those who feel strongly about what they are doing, and are passionate in their task, but come to these sites and see only a few likes or perhaps none: Do not be disheartened from moving forward. What in fact may happen, is that any number of things might have happened. It is appreciated to have some response for our hard work, such as clicks and particularly comments, but these cannot be expected nor should they be. Submitting work to publishers will give you real feedback. The act of posting can be arduous. And you have to post anyway. That’s the nobility in it, but also that’s simply your job. That is the nature of these sites. And if you ever had stopped, where would you be?
Yes, it can be akin to pulling teeth and can create anxiety. But we must remember that the mere reading of our works, even by the silent, ever demanding reader in the room, keeps them alive.
Copyright © 2012 Matthew Kenneth Kosak
The Quieted Brook