The Chimp at the Keyboard

At a gathering of writers a couple of weeks ago, a new author was expounding on some writing “expert” who recommended not worrying about any but the most superficial of edits.  His advice, just write and pump it out to the public.

I sat there stupefied, thinking of the days, weeks, and months I have spent laboring over my words – those tiny, inadequate bricks that pave a road to my world and build a house for my characters to live in.

“I’ll have twenty books published in a little over two years,” he enthused.

I wanted to weep with frustration, and so, naturally, I said nothing.  One of the reasons I became a writer is because I can never think of what to say in the moment – ever.

I hate that. 

Writing gives me time and silence to make my words say what I truly mean. And in this case, what I wanted to say is that I’d never heard such errant, heedless, and wrong advice in my life. 

Writing is hard; thinking through the nuances of plot and character is serious work.  Those little words the “expert” was so cavalier about, can entertain, teach, uplift, explore, enlighten, thrill and give endless hope.  But it doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t come easy.

No artist or professional throws something together and calls it good without checking, correcting and above all pondering; no writer should do that either.

Otherwise we might as well leave the storytelling to the proverbial chimpanzee at a keyboard. Bah!