Since the days of scribes, writers have always enjoyed prominence in most civilized cultures. They not only recorded
the mundane daily operations of kingdoms; but they also kept the recordings of a kingdom’s legal and religious systems. Thus, being able to write was a coveted skill in most ancient cultures.
Sciences like semantics and etymology have investigated language and now dictate to us what we understand and think in terms of cognition and language in detail. But in spite of obstacles like the above —writing has come a long way since the first caveman put some drawings on a wall and Johannes Gutenberg inked the first Bible. Writing is now ubiquitous. Just think for a moment, what would our world look like to us? Would we really know it–well–if it weren’t for writers?
So far I’ve only spoken of writers and writing in the most general of terms. Why because writers come in many flavors. There are almost as many genres of writing as there are purveyors of the art form. What is a writer? Who is a writer? Everyone can add, subtract, and count. But not everyone who can add, count, and subtract become and/ormathematicians. Writers are made with such convoluted intricacies that a term, writer’s bug has been coined to describe this propensity.
Let’s look at this for a minute. How do you know you are a writer? What factors tell you that you are one? Is the “writers bug “ something you catch like a cold or the flu?
Wikipedia defines a writer as “a person who uses written words to communicate ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, news articles, screenplays, or essays. Skilled writers are able to use language to express ideas and their work contributes significantly to the cultural content of a society.”
Writers have a way of describing the indescribable; making us aware of lives with all its allure and splendor. They explore the intricate underpinnings of the human conditions. They chronicle the socio-economical times of our eras, indelibly thrusting us forward into our future. Yet today, despite all this history, when you tell a person you want to become a writer–they snicker. Most English majors are harangued by their fellow students; receiving not so much as an inkling of encouragement for their professional choice, they dredge on into the deep waters of our culture, parenthetically, seeking meaningful, thought provoking, entertaining, answers to life’s seemingly unanswered questions. Why–who would have heard of the holocaust were it not for journalist and historians; or the first moon landing; or President Kennedy’s inaugural address; or Pearl Harbor, for that matter, were it not for a person with the disease called, “writers bug? ” Where do we go to learn of other cultures–to our libraries, to our archives, to our scrolls, to our hieroglyphics, to our written works? For we learn from what has been written. That being said, when did this author catch the “bug?”
Maybe it was in the summer of 1965 when Claude Brown dashed my hopes of a Promise Land? Maybe it was the written subtles of James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room,” and its assault on my sexuality? Or maybe it was his, “Go Tell It On the Mountain’s” social commentary the Church and its role in my life–a son of a preacher-man? Or maybe it was the futility of Richard Wright’s “Native Son?” Or maybe, just maybe, it was Nikki Giovanni’s Soliloquy: “Black Feeling, Black Talk?“ Or just maybe it was my big sister who infected me when she left these books within my reach. Who infected me with this virus, conclusively, I do not know. But I do know who diagnosed it, who feed it a steady diet of syntaxical injections until the dangling participles fell off and the verbs and adverbs begin to agree with treatments. I do know that his suggestive reading list poised and honed my creativity until my immune system could use his infection for the well being of the host. I also do know that no matter how brief a brush with greatness one has, it will indelibly last a lifetime. Thank you Professor Fabian Gudias, Louisiana State University, English Dept. (1972-1975). So now you know how I caught the “The Writer’s bug.”
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