TMM: Being an Observer

“I just know that you have to be afraid to live your life in order to become a writer. Soon you realize that your life is becoming this incredible plot and every person you meet becomes a character. That’s when the world inside your head feels more real than the one outside your window, when a tragedy becomes nothing more than intriguing information. That’s when you can’t cry anymore because nothing around you feels real. Your entire life becomes a huge stash of stories and novels.

And you die one chapter at a time.

You either write or live. And every writer is bound to find that out someday.”

This is what Jonathan Fisher has to say about being a writer. He’s a fictional character, but I know that some of you will feel inclined to disagree with him.

In fact, sometimes I feel like disagreeing with him as well. It’s like that quote by Fitzgerald (I never seem to find it when I need to reference it.) You know, the one about a writer being able to believe in two opposite ideas at the same time — by the way, if you know the quote, please put it here.

Anyway, my idea is that the biggest price you have to pay as a writer is that you slowly become an observer. It’s often a process that goes on unnoticed until it’s too late. And it’s a pretty big price to pay, if you think about it. More so than starving, than drug abuse, than all the crazy stuff writers have been known to do. Because being just an observer means that you’re on the outside, you’re not quite there.

It makes sense. In order to analyze something you often have to take a step back. In order for you to look at it from all sides.

And I think that this happens not because we spend a lot of time writing. It doesn’t really matter how many hours you spend writing, because you spend a lot more time just thinking about your stories, brainstorming ideas, living in a world that’s not quite real, but isn’t entirely fake either. If you couple that with the fact that writers are notorious bookworms… you get the picture.

This changes you. Simply because there isn’t enough time left for you to interact with others. Or maybe because you get used to living in the world of fiction — a world that has its appeals, no doubt.

“Because your art is an addiction like any other. The more you write, the more you want to write. The more you drown yourself in words, the less you feel alive.”

Art as an addiction. Art like morphine for those who no one loves, as Jonathan says a few lines later.

Some of you will think this is just a stereotypical portrayal of the writer. And I’m inclined to agree. Because I find it rather difficult to understand how human beings act and react from a concrete box.

You have to get out there to live. To fall in love, to get your heart broken, to hate. You have to feel something. Being passionate about writing does not make you a writer. You have to be passionate about life. You have to believe in something, you have to stand up for something. It’s difficult to find something to write about when you haven’t lived.

Then there’s this feeling that I get sometimes. Life feels like research. You know, everything you do slowly finds its way into your stories. There is no other way. You’ve got to draw inspiration from your own life experience.

But can you stop once you start dissecting your past? Can you really go back to a moment when life was just meant to be lived, not inspected? Can you really stop once you start asking questions?

“Jonathan Fisher does not intervene. I repeat, he never, ever intervenes. He just observes. He steals agony, pain, malice, sins, and then he mixes them up. He even adds a little bit of death, for good measure. And so he creates something he likes to call art. Jonathan Fisher observes, takes everything that might seem of interest, and then looks the other way. ”

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3 thoughts on “TMM: Being an Observer

  1. I write everyday: blog, screenplays, novel, and short stories. And missing a day feels odd. Being a writer for me it is the last vestige of honest speech without really getting into trouble. It’s being political, social, racial, financial, educational, and cultural without having to make a formal apology all the time. It’s a place to put all your emotions that are the darkest.

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