On The Expectations and Conduct of a Writer by Samuel Okopi

Photo Credit: Gilles Chiroleu via Goinswriter.com

Photo Credit: Gilles Chiroleu via Goinswriter.com

A writer’s primary motivator should be anticipated praise. Adulation, ovation, commendation–whatever it is called–he should dream of these as he puts his pen to paper.

The writer should constantly craft parallel scenarios of the beautiful things that would be said about his unborn work. His imagination of such acclaim must run unfettered, spurring him on to the development of a fantastic work. After all, what marks a work of art as great if not the acclaim that trails its impact on men and society?

A writer must dread ridicule. He must despise the very thought that his soon-to-be-crafted story might turn against him and become loyal to the hawks–the negative critics. As he writes, he must remain true to his story by being its only critic: the only one to bear the whip and the healing balm for this growing child; the sole wielder of the chisel and polish for this rough gem. It must be, that he takes the time, to weave a tough cocoon that shall encase him and his developing story; keeping him from the prying eyes of the hawks.

Once in his cocoon, he must feed all he has gleaned over time to his story. His knowledge of grammar, of punctuation, of figurative speech and any other artistic device in the English language known to man—and to him, must be sifted through and the right bits fed to this growing child–his story. He must leave nothing out in his examination; for no great thing has ever gained its strength from feeding on inferior offerings. He must treat his story as though there would be no other; as though there would be none greater.

In his cocoon, the writer must not be under any illusion that the hawks have receded. Yes, he doesn’t hear their sounds but they shall be near…waiting. He should not be deceived that his only fear is the hawks. He must prepare for the coming battle with the eagles that shall cause more harm than the hawks; and the vultures that shall wait for his story to die.

When the story is complete–his baby now fully grown–the writer must have the patience and maturity to put it to the test. His whip and his chisel must work again to separate weakness from strength. His mental energies must work their polish and balm on the story, taking it to dizzying heights of articulation, brilliance and creativity. He should not forget the allure of the anticipated ovation. He should be greatly afraid of the ridicule that shall come should this baby grow to become a weakling.

When the writer is satisfied his story has turned out to be the gem he imagined it to become, he must then release it to the birds of prey that he had hitherto shielded his story from. At this time, he must welcome ridicule however and from whomever it comes. He must destroy his cocoon and release this beloved child of his to the blinding light of the sun and the ferociousness of the birds he feared. He must not join in this fight that now begins–his story shall fight for itself. As the battle rages, the writer must understand that he is now to love the eagle, the hawk and the vulture–the birds he once hated and feared. He must do so, for this battle would only make his child stronger. This battle would show him the weaknesses in his child and the extra boost he should give its strengths. Observation, rather than combat, shall be key in this round of refinement.

It might be that his beloved child shall–strangely, die in this battle. He can weep–yes he can, but he must never resolve to bury his beloved story in the sands of criticism. No he should not! He should never! Every story has a right to live!

When such a death occurs, the writer must kneel before his story–this dead mutilated child that shall lie feeble before him, and invoke his muse afresh. He must understand that his muse shall not come galloping towards him with chariot-loads of endurance and hard work (these the writer must find from within himself). His muse shall only whisper a thought that shall stir up his zeal mightily. When this happens, he must begin the rites that shall bring forth this vanquished story from the dead, taking care to burn the incense of knowledge and skill. He must not mind the birds that shall cackle and peck him. He’s only focus should be the resurrection of his story; for the cackling and the pecking can do him no bodily harm. Though they dampen his spirit, he must see and receive them in good faith, translating the jeers and pain to motivation.

And when this is done, like a phoenix, the writer’s story shall slowly rise. Slowly, but surely, it shall rise with more shine. It shall rise to face the blinding sun and not be scarred. It shall rise to accomplish its genetic task and ride together with the mighty birds in the sky. And when they are high up in the heavens, these birds, together with this stronger and much more beautiful story, shall cause the now gathered clouds to rain down showers of praise on the writer.

Author: Samuel Okopi has a Masters degree in Architecture from A.B.U, Zaria. He loves poetry and engages with architecture, nature and culture on his website www.samuelokopi.com where he takes readers, every week, on an exciting journey round the world. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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