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Writers: mind plumbers
Writers fix the inner pipes.
I went to a Halloween party in LA.
One girl dressed as the blue Care Bear.
“I have a God complex,” she told me with a midwest earnestness that bordered on miraculous. “...either that or I hate myself.”
What a creative way to accidentally admit you're a narcissist.
It's not just LA writers, though. We're a group hopelessly confused about our job. What are we good for, exactly?
One moment, we feel we are owed endless attention for our God-given talent, and the next moment, we're drowning in self-pity, envisioning a future doomed as a starving artist.
You would never see, for example, a good plumber behave this way.
Writing is mind-plumbing
A good plumber knows how to get the damn pipes in the wall.
He will stick with what he knows unless he faces an unforeseen obstacle. Any creativity he uses is not for his glorification but rather an emergent solution to a unique problem.
A bad plumber might run an exposed pipe through a busy walkway and then demand that you see it as his unique expression of plumbing, not what it is: A shit job.
Similarly, the bad writer misuses words, is sloppy with his metaphors, and doesn't bother to polish his drafts with precision. He turns around and expects you to praise him for shoddy craftsmanship. He proudly claims his mistakes as “choices.”
Writing is nothing more than spiritual plumbing. You take ideas, concepts, and language developed over thousands of years by thousands of people, and you carefully and humbly piece them together in new and hopefully useful ways.
The only “talent” involved is your interest in focus. And, perhaps, your love for the people your words serve.
Bad ideas have ruined more lives than leaky pipes.
It doesn’t matter if you can explain it or not
I’ve known many plumbers back home in Louisiana who can make seals that last for a century, work with efficiency and timeliness, and yet struggle to explain to their apprentices how to have a similar mindset for success.
I love this video of this golfer trying to explain how he swings. He has no clue… verbally. And yet he drives the ball 300 yards.
The same is true for writers.
Naive and new writers glaze over the writing of much more skilled people and, with Dunning-Kruger arrogance, assume that they could do the same.
When they get no attention, they think it's because of a corrupt world full of nepotism and lucky chances.
But good writing always finds a way to the top.
Writing is just mind-plumbing. It's humble work. In a lot of ways, it’s shit work.
Roll up your damn sleeves and do your best to serve the people who rely on you to clean up their thinking.
Thanks for reading,
Share this with a writer who doesn’t know what he’s good for.
What’s moving me:
“True art seems artless.” — Tao Te Ching
“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.” —Ernest Hemingway