The Act of Writing â€“ the Reader
By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times
There are two types of writers: those who make you think and those who make you dream,â€ says Brian Aldiss, who made me dream for such a long time with his science-fiction books. Thinking about his sentence and my work, I decided to write some columns on the subject. In principle I believe that every human being on this planet has at least one good story to tell his neighbor. What follows are my reflections on some important items in the process of creating a text.
Above all else, the writer has to be a good reader. The kind that sticks to academic texts and does not read what others write (and here Iâ€™m not just talking about books but also blogs, newspaper columns and so on) will never know his own qualities and defects.
So before starting anything, look for people who are interested in sharing their experience through words. Iâ€™m not saying: â€œlook for other writers.” What I say is: find people with different skills, because writing is no different from any other activity that is done with enthusiasm.
Your allies will not necessarily be those that everyone looks on with admiration and says: â€œthereâ€™s nobody better.â€ Itâ€™s very much the opposite: itâ€™s people who are not afraid of making mistakes, and yet they do make mistakes. That is why their work is not always recognized. But thatâ€™s the type of people who change the world, and after many a mistake they manage to get something right that will make all the difference in their community.
These are people who cannot sit around waiting for things to happen before they decide on the best way to narrate them: they decide as they act, even knowing that this can be very risky.
Living close to these people is important for writers, because they need to understand that before putting anything down on paper, they should be free enough to change direction as their imagination wanders. When a sentence comes to an end, the writer should tell himself: â€œWhile I was writing I traveled a long road. Now I can finish this paragraph in the full awareness that I have risked enough and given the best of myself.â€
The best allies are those who donâ€™t think like the others. Thatâ€™s why, while you are looking for your companions (not always visible, because meetings between the reader and the writer are rare), trust your intuition and donâ€™t pay any attention to othersâ€™ remarks. People always judge others using the model of their own limitations â€“ and at times the opinion of the community is full of prejudices and fears.
Join those who have never said: â€œItâ€™s finished. I have to stop here.” Because just as winter is followed by spring, nothing comes to an end: after reaching your objective, you have to start again, always using all that you have learned on the way.
Join those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have happiness in their eyes. Because happiness is contagious and always manages to keep people from being paralyzed by depression, loneliness and troubles.
And tell your story, even if itâ€™s only for your family to read.
(Next week: the pen)
Â© Translated by James Mulholland
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