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Writing just for the sake of writing

Phil Fitzpatrick - "It’s not axiomatic or necessary to seek validation for anything you’ve written through publication"


TUMBY BAY - People are motivated to write for all sorts of reasons. At the crudest, to make money.

Some write in the hope of influencing readers to adopt or consider their ideas and opinions. Others because they see a need to record important events.

Of the many reasons, a favourite author of mine, Barbara Kingsolver, summed it up when she said: “Writers will go to stupefying lengths to get the infernal roar of words out of their skulls and onto paper”.

This idea of compulsion is interesting because it doesn’t necessarily mean there has to be a logical next step once those words are on paper.

I really enjoy the process of writing but I hate what is involved in getting it published.

More often than not I’m already thinking about the next topic I want to write about when I finish a particular essay, story or novel.

I feel I need to get on with that instead of fiddling around with editors, agents and publishers.

That might sound counterintuitive because, once something has been written, it follows that people should be able to read it.

That isn’t necessarily the case however. I’ve got stuff I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing sitting in desk drawers and on my computer or on a flash drive that I have no intention of publishing.

The fact that it’s been written is satisfaction enough.

Sometimes, I’ll get a book printed - and just let it sit unannounced in my bookcase. Digital publishing services are handy in this respect.

I think what influences my approach is the purity of thinking through an idea by writing untrammelled by the dirty fingerprints of crass commercialism.

I’m not alone in this thinking. Over the years I’ve been sent manuscripts and one-off printed books from both acquaintances and people I’ve never met.

When I write back encouraging them to seek publication they often respond saying they wrote it just for their family and friends and don’t want to publish.

I can understand that sentiment. The ‘infernal roar’ has been satisfied, and that’s as far as it needs to go.

It’s not axiomatic or necessary to seek validation for anything you’ve written through publication. Even well-known writers accept this.

When famous writers die it’s remarkable what they leave behind that was never published. Publishers fall over themselves to get hold of this stuff and print it in the hope of making a quick buck.

Some writers burn their unpublished works before they die, or arrange for someone else to do it.

It is a nice thing to contemplate. That the ‘infernal roar of words’ in a writer’s head isn’t necessarily satiated by crass commercialism.


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Bernard Corden

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make" - Truman Capote

AG Satori

Academic and scientific papers are constantly being written and published.

But it is a struggle to get the other type of writing, our storytelling, that is just for pleasure and a few laughs if possible.

It is our non-academic history of a time before and of a time today that is lagging.

If Mr Fitzpatrick's dilemma is true for all writers in PNG, we lose big time.

The authors have tried seeing PMJM, a PM who wants to take back PNG. Great ideals. A huge undertaking.

It should not only involve taking back our resources. It should involve other outlets too.

Taking back PNG must include writing to capture what needs to be part of the ideals of taking back PNG.

It is a hard sell to PMJM and those at the education ministry and department. The national library should be taken back first from its disorientated custodians.

But Mr Fitzpatrick's muse about writing for the sake of it - for no monetary gain has been true for writers like Daniel Kumbon, Jordan Dean, Maureen Potoura, Carolyn Evara, Baka Bina and the late Francis Nii.

I wonder if they will ever decide it is not worth their while and stop producing pieces and publications. The country will be poorer for that lack. It was poor before and post Ulli Beier and before and post the Crocodile Prize.

I too have a few pieces of writing I tried to put into the public domain via PNG Attitude - my hasty piece on sanguma a couple of years back generated no discourse. I have since shied away from publishing further pieces.

Do I burn these works later in life. It's a good idea, my hetpen and hatwok should be that - mine alone.

But Mr Fitzpatrick, it's a noble piece, this piece, but I hope it does not encourage these noble writers to pause their noble pastime.

Time has been and is still a thief of major proportions. I echo the sentiment that we are losing our pride for recording our cultures, stories and traditions. We don't want our writers as traditional knowledge keepers filing away in their droves.

An addendum here. Just because a young one can dress in traditional finery is no guarantee this person knows the songs or their meanings or their derivation. We are producing plastic traditions.

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