Most of the people in your family and friend circle who are school-aged and up are probably not functionally illiterate. Most of them can probably read and write on some level to communicate messages. But I’m guessing relatively few of those people who can “write” can (or do) actually WRITE with the intent of doing more than simply conveying information.
They can make grocery lists. They can help their kids write book reports. They can even write business letters and work memos. But they’re not “writers.” Not like you, anyway. They don’t know the agony of shaping a plot, developing a character, falling in love with that character and then killing her. All for the sake of STORY.
Some of them may even be readers, yet they suffer from that same, understandable disconnect lots of people do as they intuitively understand when they read a “good” book versus a “bad” one, but can’t conceive that another human being had to suffer and bleed to create that book.
And those who do get it, can’t begin to understand why you, WRITER, would want to put yourself through that.
The answer is simple.
It’s because writing is like BUTTER.
How do I know? Let me count the (5) ways.
HOW WRITING IS LIKE BUTTER
- IT’S EVERYWHERE. Butter: You bake with it. Spread it on toast/veggies/muffins/the cat. The local paper recently had a story about a local guy who got drunk and spread butter all over his naked self. Butter everywhere, all the time. Just ask Paula Deen. Writing: It’s everywhere too. Print books, e-books, this blog (but ONLY this blog. You’re not reading other blogs, are you? DON’T LIE TO ME!), magazines, pamphlets on STD’s. Everywhere. The written word is alive and well and will keep on kickin’ until human brains revert back to pictographs from everything; sort of like McDonald’s cash registers with pictures on the keys instead of numbers.
- IT’S CREAMY AND DELICIOUS. Butter: Toast without butter is a cracker. Toast with butter is a party, or at least a satisfying breakfast. Smooth and yummy (coincidentally, my nickname in college), food just tastes better with butter. Writing: I think really good writing just goes down easier than bad writing. You know real butter when you taste it, and you know good writing when you read it. A crappy book is still a book, but it’s also…not. Buttered popcorn versus plain popcorn is like reading Michael Chabon versus reading the script for a “reality” show (There is too a script. No one talks like that.)
- IT’S INDISPENSABLE. Butter: There are a few things you find yourself always going to the store for, aren’t there? Milk, bread, condoms, whisky. The typical stuff. Butter is another one. You always want it around. Writing: Same idea. When you go on a trip, what do you always take with you? Your most comfy socks. Camera. Family members (optional). Condoms. And a book to read on the plane/in the car/on the back of the burro as you’re lead up the mountainside. Book lovers want their books around ALL THE TIME. Like butter.
- IT GETS CRITICIZED. Butter: There are all sorts of butter substitutes. Margarine. Cooking spray. I Can’t Believe It Was Made in a Lab and is Now Going in My Mouth. People will tell you too much butter is unhealthy and you’re supposed to believe them just because they’re highly educated and have researched this for years. Others will say that’s BS. Butter has life-giving properties so strong, one dab on your English Muffin will give you eternal life. (I can’t prove that, but that’s what that nice lobbyist told me, so it’s probably true.) Writing: Books and movies and stories are criticized all the time. Whole actual persons make a living doing nothing but giving their opinions about other people’s writing. Some people loved Harry Potter. Others thought it was donkey spit. Some people thought The DaVinci Code was a ripping good yarn. Others thought the book was code for “this sucks!” (see what I did there? Code and code. This is why I blog.)
- IT’S YELLOW. Butter: It’s literally yellow. What? Have you ever seen blue butter? I don’t think so. Remember when they tried to market green ketchup? Didn’t go so hot. Same with butter. We like our butter yellow, thanks. Familiar is good. Writing: Obviously there are many platforms, print, e-book, blog, columns, whatever. So in terms of layout, different types of writing look different. But still, what readers love, is the white page laid out before them. Words and sentences and paragraphs all lovingly crafted, churned like butter, if you will, to create entertainment and information for the reader.
It’s all so obvious now, isn’t it?
That’s what I’m here for.