I have never had a review of any of my articles by someone in the same field. The reason is not that I have never thought about it, in fact, contrast to that, I have always thought about it more often than not. Some people are just too good in what they do, and you want to have a talk with them and ask them exactly how they do their stuff. There are stories you read and after you are done, you lie there lifeless, wondering about the author, like who hurt him, is he going to be fine, did he type the story or did he handwrite it and then had someone type it up for him, worse is when the author is a lady.
The truth is, that writing is difficult. There is no unit of measurement when it comes to writing. You create characters from real life experiences, build their attributes and behaviors from your experiences and make them as humanly possible as you can. It takes time to get to people’s heads using text, and that is normally the purpose of writing, being able to grasp a readers mind, transform it into your own and fulfill a certain perception of things. There are no conventions in writing, the only thing constant is that there is always one persistent message that the author wishes to put across all along.
Recently, I gave one of my articles up for review by two professional writers, people that have been doing this for a while. People I admire, and you will find me beneath the covers of my bed reading their stories, eyes wide open, hoping and waiting that a character manufactured by them finds their happy ending. To be entirely honest, of the two writers, none, whatsoever, ever has a happy ending. Yet like a little girl, I always lay in wait that these two will get a life someday and cease messing up my expectations.
The reason I gave the article out for review is not that I was feeling insecure about the content I write daily, neither was it because I needed some gratification, it was solely because I believe art is expressive in nature. This is the reason it differs from one person to another. While one of them found it entirely romantic with instances of badly placed words, the other found it artistic and intellectually unrestricted. They both agreed that the idea and the characters were well built but differed in the choice of words. The thing that surprised me most is that their analysis and understanding of the 1300 words story was completely different.
And that is when it hit me. There no rules in writing. It is not a science where we have to exert a certain amount of pressure to get some predetermined results. It is an art, and the only responsibility I have is to my audience. There rules are non-existent, and the only limitations are the authors’ imagination. Then I thought of Igoni Barret in the book, ‘BlackAss,’ he transforms one of his character from male to female in a single story, and the reader has to take time off the book and marinate at what it is that just happened. That is the kind of liberty present in art. You create, you kill, you resurrect and create again without having any questions asked.
I think of writing more of an escape from the numerous rules present in life. When you jump up high, it is mandatory to come back to the ground no matter who you are. My idea when writing is that I can jump, up high and do not necessarily have to come back down due to stuff like gravity or lack of wings. However, I am always scared of the content I put out there, sometimes I am unsure about it, and I will write only for the story to remain on my hard disk until such a time that the re-write hits my mind like something publishable. The first responsibility of an artist is to him or herself and if at all the product is not satisfactory to him or her than it cannot be fitting to his or her audience.
However, different artist makes art for different reasons. While others are to inform, others to entertain, I would like to think of my reasons more like the ability to transmute my thoughts into your thoughts so that by the end of a story you and I have the same thoughts. To get to another person’s head is never as easy as it sounds. You have first to get rid of any initial judgment about the product, and after that, the way is clear to infuse your concepts. I remember the very first article I wrote here on dennispetersblog was about 2007 post-election violence and I was trying to create a character who was a boy that had lost faith in humanity when neighbor turned against neighbor because of their difference in political opinion. The key word is ‘trying.’ That was four years ago.
Now as I marked four years of appearing on your email, facebook, whats app and twitter notifications blubbering about this and that, I can barely tell who reads what on this website unless they leave a comment. Initially, when I got a bad comment I would get disappointed and even refuse to let the comment visible to my readers, but as the years pass, I have learned to rely on my feelings towards my content. I have had loyal readers from the word go, people who never speak but I can always feel they are lurking in the shadows reading and laughing quietly to themselves. I do not know if my dad got tired of checking out the website occasionally like a boss performing a human resource check, but I know he does not approve the F word (Fudge), and the N word (Nazi) but can never bring himself up to question me.
Someone said that it is fine, most of us are intelligent, but the truest measure of intelligence is the ability to transform thoughts into words to be felt by those that come into contact with them. To other artists, poets, creative writers, the task lies not with the popularity of your content’s extent but by the touch of feeling it delivers upon those that try to understand it. Keep creating, the thing about all this is that it is only getting better and better with time.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.