by Robert S. Robbins
Rejection and frustration have often caused would be writers to
neglect their talent and abandon their dreams. Many would assume this to be
a great waste but I do not believe the situation is so bleak. A writer will
continue to dream and advance in his thinking even in the absence of
recognition or encouragement. Only society will suffer the loss of a talent.
The writer cannot lose his creativity or intelligence.
Our society has an abominable attitude towards writers. Being published is considered such a great privilege that writers are asked to prove themselves worthy of this honor. On the contrary, writing is a gratuitous act. The writer is being generous with his thoughts in spite of the fact that there is little to be gained. A writer is motivated by the thought that he has something to contribute (be it an idea, a story, or an expression of his dreams) and the reader must either accept what is offered or suffer the loss of that contribution. For what does a writer ask for but his reader's attention?
A writer who is gifted has more to offer than a writer who is talented. By this, I mean that proficiency in the craft, the skill of writing, should not be valued above the gifts of the writer. A gift may be a perceptive intellect, an ability to tell a good story, or an inspired imagination. Writing is merely a tool to be used to share these gifts with others. It is important to note that a gift is an essential quality of the writer. A gift is not earned or acquired through hard work or practice. To be gifted is to have your life enriched by an imagination or an intellect which is yours to value no matter what. The word "gift" is quite appropriate for a natural attribute. It is only natural and sociable to seek to share one's gift, to relate a dream or a brilliant thought. But given a cold reception, it is just as easy to keep these things to oneself. After all, what a writer has conceived does not vanish upon its rejection but simply remains with him. Although an aspiring writer may become so discouraged as to neglect his cultural interests altogether, I seriously doubt that putting down the pen and closing the books is truly the end of the matter. I suspect the discouraged writer continues to put thoughts into words, explore trains of thought, and dream of things that cannot be. To the extent that the silent writer is genuinely gifted, his work will continue in spite of himself. It simply won't be recorded on paper. In such a situation it is solely the writer who benefits from his gift.
Of course, I am not speaking of those writers who look within themselves and find nothing and therefore doubt they have anything to offer. I am thinking of the rare individual whose inner resources far exceed those of the ordinary man, the artist who dreams magnificently! Perhaps the strongest indication of an exceptional gift is when the artist becomes obsessed with his own vision. Many writers are weary of the world and its predictable turn of events, but few can see the ineffable so clearly as to have it captivate their souls with mystery. When an artist becomes obsessed by his own vision, he knows that the world cannot offer him the realization of that dream. His goal must be that of the creator, one who brings forth what is not within the world. For this reason, conventional success will be unsatisfactory and conventional failure will not be a concern. More is being attempted, and more will be accomplished than if the writer pursued a worldly goal.
We must adopt a new respect for the writer. We must take greater care in considering what his writing has to offer, and stop demanding that he command our attention from the start. While it is true that not everything writers choose to write is worth reading, it is important to derive what value we may from their efforts. Consider it an intellectual challenge to find something of value in the next unpromising book you read. As a reader, you owe it to yourself to gain new perspectives, concepts, ideas, dreams, and visions from the material you've invested your time in reading. Rejecting all reading material that does not promise immediate and easy comprehension or entertainment will only impoverish you intellectually and starve your soul.
This article is meant to be an affirmation of the writer's strength. The gifted individual can never be diminished. A writer can be discouraged in his efforts, but you can never discourage the natural progression of thoughts and dreams which always remains with the writer. A hostile culture will only silence its visionaries and thinkers. As for myself, I have looked within myself and find a universe beyond the world I know.