My story is in no way unique. It’s the typical tale of a youngster who wants to become a writer but is pushed down by an authority who tells the youngster to strive for something else. The youngster pushes aside the dream and decides to go for something else – only to realize later in life that they got completely side-tracked by the advice from the authority. Whether they make it back to the real dream or not, I guess that’s where the differences lie with each similar story.
I was listening to an episode of the podcast Write-minded (hosted by Brooke Warner of She Writes and Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo) where they talked about how every story deserves to be told, how every story matters. Warner herself had her writing dreams pushed down by her school teacher which reminded me of my own story. In my narrative, however, it was my parents who managed to convince me to put my writer-dreams aside, not my teachers at school (who actually were extremely supportive of my writing which I appreciated a great deal at the time and still do today).
But here I am now, writing almost on a daily basis, feeling alive and fulfilled by what I do. I’m in that phase of the story where the main character decides to get back to the real deal, The Dream, and make her way into ’writerhood’. But why do I want to put my word out there, to the world?
Thinking about us writers who are yearning to publish their written world, I keep wondering why we do it. Why do I do it?
Why am I publishing these blog posts, why am I planning on sending my book to a publisher? Why do I have the need to make my words public instead of just keeping them to myself?
A Writer’s Doubt of Power
Because as I write down word after word and create these entities, the blog posts, the Instagram captions, the fictional works, I can’t help but think this: isn’t there enough words in the world already? There are millions, if not billions of people out here in this world creating as much if not more words than I am on a daily basis. They are telling their own stories and are having their own impact on this world.
Isn’t there enough stories, enough influencing through storytelling? Why do I have the need to add to that? Why do I consider my story to be so important, so unique, that it needs to be shared with the whole wide world? Where does this need of sharing come from?
But then I think: is this just the Resistance talking? Is this simply one version of a writer’s doubt – the thought that my story isn’t unique or important enough to be told to the world?
And maybe the doubt has also to do with this: Is my story powerful?
Because every day that I string together words that build sentences that create entities of knowledge and meaning, it feels like I’m doing something magical. It isn’t quite like creating-air-out-of-nothing kind of powerful but I do feel powerful by the fact that ’no one else sees the word the way I do, so no one else can tell the stories you have to tell’ (a quote by the author Charles de Lint). In other words, everything I write is, in a way, unique and can therefore have an impact, be powerful.
But is that what I want – to be powerful?
The Hierarchy of Words
Do you remember in biology class the teacher explaining the food chain and how energy is passed in an ecosystem? Eagles, lions and other tertiary consumers/carnivores are at the top of the pyramid while primary consumers/herbivores, such as rabbits and grasshoppers, and producers, i.e. plants, are at the bottom of the chain. In the food chain, the strongest and the most powerful are at the top of the pyramid while the ones at the bottom have the least power over other species.
The power structure or power hierarchy is an interesting thought to play with, so I took the principle behind the feeding hierarchy and applied it to the world of words. How does the hierarchy of words look like? Who has the most power in using words and in what way? Here is what I came up with:
As you can see, I have placed the makers of the words on top of the hierarchy because if there were no words there wouldn’t be any stories like the ones we have today. The word creators are at the top with quite a lot of power but they are only a few in total. Next, I have the people who give meaning to the words. They think about what words like society or jealousy or sexuality really mean to us. These people have a good deal of power as well but the reason they are under the word-creators is because if there were no words there wouldn’t be anything to give meaning to, right?
After that the hierarchy presents those who take these created words and the meanings given to them and use them to express knowledge, to create something completely new. That could be new findings, for example, or new ways of expressing oneself. These people are followed by those who take this knowledge to produce their own version of it. The majority of all written word finds its place in this category. And at the bottom of the hierarchy we have the consumers. Those, who take in the new words, the meaning of those words and entities built from them, and consume them, giving them their own personal context and meaning. All the readers out there (me included) – you are in this category with the majority of the population.
I am aware that the hierarchy I’ve created isn’t exactly very strict (or scientific, for that matter) and that all categories pretty much go into each other. Makers of the words tend to give a context for the words to be used in and those who give meaning to the words tend to build on new knowledge when defining that meaning, and so on. But I think it’s a fun way to think about the hierarchy of words created, written and thought of. It also describes the power structure of words: the higher up you are in that hierarchy, the more power you have over communication and people.
The Power Of A Writer
In this hierarchy of words, I find myself in the two bottom layers. I am definitely a reader, a consumer of words, but I’m also a builder of already existing entities. However, if you think about the Charles de Lint quote mentioned earlier, that no one can see the words as I do and therefore everything I writes is unique, I could be boxed into the third category as well.
According to my self-made Hierarchy of Words, I have good deal of power. I might not be the most powerful, but I do have some power in my hands, in the words that I write. Every blog post, Instagram caption and word in my novel is a new creation, a unique entity that can have an influence on them who read the texts. By talking about comfort zones, habits, self-development and what comes with them, I can create a change. In other words, I have some power in my hands. But is that why I’m doing this?
To come back to the questions I presented earlier in this post, I would like to declare this one thought: I can’t really say why I’m putting my word ’out there’. This blog and Yellow Tails are outlets for my thoughts and observations. I am not writing because I wish to be an influencer or a change-maker. I’m not out here trying to gain power, to use my wise words to do something large-scale. Maybe one can see this blog or my Instagram account as a portfolio but that’s all. I just want to write and hopefully be able to turn my creativity into currency.
It feels like I’m leaving you, the reader, disappointed in the end of this post. I can’t really explain why I wish to publish so much of my writing, why I think my words deserve the space I’m claiming for it on the Internet. I’m happy as long as I am able to keep on writing. The publishing, the social media branding and other similar things come as second to be able to support the primary thing, i.e. daily writing.
And the power of words, the power of writing? It comes, if it does. After all, it’s not me who creates that power, not really. It’s the people who take my words to their minds that give me the power. So, I’m not really in control of that.
Why do you publish what you write (if you do)?