The company that created my website informed me, soon after I paid for its S.E.O. service, sent me a link to a proposed page of my site in my email box. It was a mysterious page entitled “Jim’s Thoughts”.
Not understanding the page, I emailed sweet Heather, the young, proficient lady at the company, telling her I didn’t understand the page.
“That will be your blog page. People will get to your blogs through this page,” Heather informed me.
I had a vague knowledge of the word “blog”, having heard the word at times and having read it here and there over the years, and understood, hazily, that it was an online journal or diary. I recoiled in dread from the thought.
Part of my personality is like Buddy Revell’s, a character who is an antisocial misfit in one of my favorite movies, Three O’Clock High, in that (to quote), “I don’t want anyone to know about me.”
I researched blogs and wondered, in dread, “What can I possibly write?” I lead a simple, straight-forward life: I read, write, play cards (now and then—more about this later), think, plan out my next novel or play, and visit my nephew and his little one (a fun-loving five year old girl). On the surface, I lead a boring life, and if anyone (myself included) saw my life depicted on T.V., everyone (myself included, again) would change the station.
Ah! But the thing is that we are not bored! Why? Because we have internal lives that are fascinating.
Nine years ago, I sat down with a literary agent to go over the first few pages of one of my novels, Yvette. The beginning of Yvette wasn’t formulaic enough for her, and she picked it apart.
In subsequent conversation with her, I discovered that she had once started to write a novel, but gave up after two chapters; somehow, then, her path led to her becoming a literary agent.
“Do you agree that your life, on the surface,” I queried, “wouldn’t be interesting to another person?”
“You see, my job, as a writer, is to make your life interesting to other people: I bet I could make your life interesting to a reader.”
She smiled shyly, waved her hand in a short arc, and gave a short shake of her head. She looked down and, so, dismissed the possibility that her life could be interesting to other people.
But her own life was fascinating and irresistible to herself! And she wouldn’t trade it for any other life under the sun: she loved her job; she claimed, to my question, that she had no interest in becoming a writer.
Im well-acquainted with the modern philosophy of commercial writing: to become a successful writer (i.e., one who has an adoring public that showers money into his or her bank account), he or she must conform his or her thoughts to cause-and-effect plots (thrillers of all sorts) or hold the audience’s attention with a murder-mystery theme, keeping the audience in suspense until the curtain parts and the murdering culprit stands before them.
Of course, this is escapism: people need a thrill; they’re bored and, to combat their boredom, they seek something out of the ordinary, something that could never happen to them.
There is, however a third philosophy, realism, which is not formulaic, but which can hold a reader’s interest by giving him or her a chance to see life through another person’s eyes! In realism, the character’s and characters’ thoughts are laid out to the reader: the writer offers you their souls; the writer turns his or her palms up, place the outsides of his inverted hands together, and, like a child cradling a delicate robin’s egg for his parents or friends to see, presents his character to you. If it’s written properly, the character or characters magically fuse with the reader’s mind and soul, and the reader feels the character’s soul.
No, the audience for a writer of realism is not the same as it is for a commercial writer, but I hope the audience is still there.