Labor often institutes strikes to exhibit its value when it feels exploited. Writing is a labor of the heart and soul. When the words disappear, the value is rarely on exhibition. This Catch 22 is different from all others.
When a writer falls silent, the choices of why it happened are a short list. The writers whose sole incentive is money are not getting the wage they feel they deserve or they cannot find a buyer for the content they produce. The writers who bleed onto the page, most often, have exsanguinated or have found sufficient happiness to stem the blood flow. Writers who are exploitive find themselves either burnt up in their coverage of the subject or remain offended long after their audience has caught fire with the newest, more heinous tragedy or outrage.
No matter the cause, the silence is the writer’s strike.
Breaking the silence can be hard, especially if a writer finds it is time to stop being one sort of writer in favor of a new form. It requires finding a new voice, the loss of the former reputation, which is not always possible, and transforming passion from the old standard to a completely unfamiliar one.
Topics once acceptable and desirable have become trite and overworked. Catch phrases and buzz words lose their edge in the sheer repetition of them. All of it is hackneyed and useless.
Toeing new water is a shock to the system. Similar to the first day on a new career, the unfamiliarity is frightening, fraught with danger and unnerving. Taking off a long-carried mantle is undressing before the audience. Some of them will quietly leave the theatre, whilst others will storm out with righteous indignation. How righteous is it?
The Same, But Different?
Writers easily mislead readers into believing writing about one topic is no different than writing about another topic. Whilst writers may know otherwise, readers do not make the correlation. They can stand in their libraries and see neat row after row of specific genres which solely exclude more than seven-eighths of what Melvil Dewey worked so hard to catalog. Just as readers have passion for what they consume, writers have passion for what they produce.
As with any relationship, chance favors those who remain passionate. When the passion is diffuse, lukewarm or exhausted, the relationship is in the denouement. The symbiosis is no longer equitable. When a writer loses passion for a subject, the reader becomes a parasite whose need to consume the words suck the life out of the writer. The ensuing silence drives the reader to another host. But what becomes of the writer without a reader?
Finding the replacement reader is not as simple as sending out a résumé. Passion for reading quickly becomes a hoarding of the authors who first introduced a subject, to the exclusion of all who would complement or supplant the originals. The writer chasing readers is not writing, since typing on the run is difficult.
Lost in the chase is the passion for writing. When one must do something which is outside their passion, one can easily lose the memory of the warmth, forget how to ignite it and ultimately question why anyone would enjoy the light. Such is the darkness of a strike of silence.
The course of words which shall follow this post are eerily similar to those which precede them. Still, they are delivered in a stark contrast to the predecessors.
May you find light in them which is warm and passionate.
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