Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Freedom - what does it mean for the writer

We have no topic this week...
What does that mean?

You're giving me a blank page to create on?

You're giving me..................


Okay -that sounds good. I mean, we authors crave freedom. Pretty much in the following order:

  • Freedom from deadlines - let us write until were damn well good and ready to send you something - but keep those checks coming in the mean time - we have to eat and keep the lights on you know.

  • Freedom from copy-editors - why do they insist on completely ruining the tone and flow of a piece for the sake of proper grammar? Really? (Actually mine don't really do that - but I have heard stories...)

  • You know what, add freedom from grammar in there while were at it

  • Freedom from reviewers and critics - actually most of us want more reviews, as many as we can get - at least until were big time and everyone knows us and then we don't want anyone commenting on our prowess or lack there of or grammar errors not captured by the aforementioned copy-editor,

So yes, we want tons of freedom - but for goodness sakes don't give us a blank page and no inkling of where to go - that's why we invented story structure and character arc and a half a dozen other things I should probably know about that are only slightly less annoying than grammar and punctuation!.?,;?! - What's that do for you, legalistic punctuation Nazis?

Seriously tough, with too much freedom you might wind up with something totally original - and who wants that? No wants to read a story where there are no main characters, people come and go and you only see glimpses of their lives as they intersect.

Hmm... that actually sounds kind of interesting to write - don't know if anyone would read it though. But for sure no one wants to read a story that starts in the middle and doesn't really have an end or a point or even a theme - unless of course the theme and point is that life isn't so neat and tidy - humanity despite all our efforts does not know its starting point and/or our end - it just flows together - one generation into the next.

Freedom - like water flowing everywhere and in all directions.

No, no, no. That's all wrong. And it can't be done anyway. And if you give me the freedom to try it I wont be able to resist and I will spend decades typing away on some manifesto like book that no one will read or even look at until 200 years after I've gone to the big ThrillerFest in the sky --- and then when it becomes a massive best seller I won't even get to enjoy it or cash the checks.

So keep your damnable freedom sir - it does me no good. Tell me what to write and when to write it and how to write it. Let me buy endless how to books with names like "Write the next bestseller" and such - so that I become the next big thing/mega bestseller/household name hanging out with Oprah and Barbara and Letterman - at which time I will finally be able to afford this freedom you speak of.

And of course - that's when they will take it away and tell me they want 20 books exactly like the one I just wrote - and yes Mr. Brown you've already cashed the check.

Graham Brown is the author of two novels; Black Rain and Black Sun - both of which were were edited by a group of excellent people at Random House who he is completely thankful to be working with, and without whom his books would be virtually un-readable.

* no copy editors were injured during he writing of this blog.


Joshua Corin said...

Great post, Graham, and I totally agree - give us freedom (but spare us from the torture of a blank page)!

Graham Brown said...

Thanks Josh. Seriously - that blank page is painful.