I recently shared 7 Reasons for Using Videos in Your Social Marketing Campaigns. Many commented that it’s hard using YouTube effectively–a statement I agree with, as I’m pretty inexperienced in its use myself. Which is why I hope you find today’s guest post by Mahendra Bajiya useful! Mahendra is an entrepreneur and blogger who uses YouTube […]
It’s a word that we’ve all heard bandied about from time to time, usually attached to some famous figure in history known for inventing something important that has changed the nation—or the world—in ways modern generations could not contemplate living without. Take Steve Jobs for example. Mr. Jobs is considered a true visionary. He’s the father of the modern personal computer, a device with which a life without would seem unimaginable in this modern world. Or consider Henry Ford, automotive tycoon. Mr. Ford certainly didn’t invent the automobile, but he did perfect the assembly line, bringing costs down, allowing for the common people to afford their very own car—and through employment in Ford’s factories, a stronger middle class arose.
The Oxford American College Dictionary contains multiple definitions for this complex yet simple word. The definition I like best reads as stated: a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.
The Oxford could be very well be describing a writer. Writers, by nature, are visionaries. Writers, in the name of creativity, must envision worlds that do not exist, populated with people that are not real. But the above definition mentions only the future. What about the past? Can a writer be a visionary in regards to a time that has already faded? The answer is most certainly yes. We construct alternate accounts of real events—like making Abraham Lincoln into a vampire hunter. A program on an internet site’s streaming service poses a world in the 21 century seen through the lens of a Nazi victory in World War Two.
But being a visionary, it runs deeper than merely being a creative writer—or musician or artist. In a sense, everybody is a writer. If you write emails or texts, you are a writer. Here’s where the differences come into play. Not everybody is an author. Writers are not all authors. There are those who write down their personal thoughts and experiences in the pages of diaries or journals, never intending any other living soul to pry. Authors, they have to be bold and brave. They write to be read. If the words we seek to share with others are not visionary, you can bet you’ll hear from those who invested the time in sentences we’ve strung together.
Diaries, texts, personal correspondences; these are not meant to entertain the reader. These are merely there to convey a message or to act as reminder to the future self that, on this particular day, so-and-so made me angry or happy or sad.
Authors, writing to be read, must envision their story from beginning to end—before the writing process begins. We must see what does not, at this juncture, exist anywhere in this world. This will almost certainly require research of some sort—unless you’re creating your own Middle Earth setting. Research itself requires vision.
In beginning my work on Jazz Baby, I needed a road map through the 1920s. I am just past the half-century mark, having drawn my first breath of life in 1967. I had nothing by way of personal experience to shade my notions of the America of 1925. And we can’t just assume, either. Assumption is an enemy of the visionary.
As I started to dig into my research, scenes from my story began to construct themselves behind my eyes. Scraps of paper quickly filled with ideas found within the pages of an old U.S. history book; situations came to life while watching documentaries on PBS or The History Channel. They didn’t have radio in their cars until 1932—so scrap the scene where the characters are driving to New Orleans singing along to jazz tunes on the radio. So how do we fill that void? Dialogue! These characters are now forced to speak to one another, sharing hopes and fears, and in the process, introducing their deeper selves to those who would come to read the finished product. A visionary finds ways to stay on point when something like reality cuts in and says, um, that can’t be. We make it work. And we don’t just make it work; we use it for the profound or the poignant. Statements are made in those quiet moments between Emily Ann and Tanyon—statements that wouldn’t exist had I stuck a radio in that car.
Being visionary is about seeing what’s not there, seeing it in multiple views, and possessing the ability to determine the best view. It doesn’t work very well to write about characters of which we know little or nothing. Vision allows us to see these characters, to meet them, to discover the personalities behind mere words on a page. To the visionary writer, his or her characters truly come alive before they ever occupy space on the page.
The fact is anybody can write a story. But the visionary writes the sort of stories people will want to read. The really good ones build a following of readers just waiting for the next story to unfold. The best storytellers throughout history possessed vision. And it’s that vision that gives both the writer and the story life eternal. Those without vision, well, nobody recalls the stories they’ve told. Nobody remembers their names.
They are everywhere. In restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and banks. They can be found wandering the streets of big cities and small villages alike. I’m talking about the walking dead. No, I don’t mean flesh-eating zombies in search of a slow-moving meal. I’m talking about smartphone junkies. You know the ones, those brain-addled folks who cannot function more than a few minutes without looking at the electronic device that’s literally stealing their souls away.
We’ve all seen the videos on the internet; the ones showing those clueless clowns who plunge into water fountains inside some shopping mall because they can’t bear to look away from the smartphone long enough to save themselves from disaster.
Just sit inside of a restaurant—any restaurant in any city in any country—and watch all the sagging, drooping heads. These brain-dead techno-zombies won’t even bother to socialize with their lunch or dinner companions. They just can’t spare the thirty minutes or so for simple human to human interaction. Their smartphone just won’t allow it.
This is the new society we live in. This is the curse that technology has gifted the human race. How many lives have been lost due to smart phones? I see these fools texting, surfing the internet, and checking emails while at the helm of fast-moving vehicles. I watched one idiot fly through an intersection before T-boning an unsuspecting motorist who had the misfortune of passing through that intersection at the wrong moment in time. The guilty party was texting or checking messages. The rest of us were stopped at the red light. I guess you’re not likely to notice a thing like a red light with your nose buried in a smart phone.
During a recent visit to a local burger joint, I witnessed a grandmother completely ignoring her young granddaughter, because whatever her smartphone offered far exceeded anything the little girl could manage. The girl, no more than five, practically pleaded for Grandma’s attention before finally realizing the futility in her effort. The grandmother acknowledged the girl twice during the thirty-odd minutes they were in the restaurant. And both times, the woman hollered at the girl to quit pestering her.
Don’t get me wrong; technology has been amazing—especially for writers. It’s something of a miracle to be able to write a short article like this, and have it read by people all over the world with just a few keystrokes. But look at what’s been replaced by this technology. Social interaction is now mostly carried out over Facebook or Twitter or texting or any one of a dozen other social media sites. Very few of us actually sit down and write letters to friends and family anymore. Why bother when a text message is quicker and easier? Most schools here in the States don’t even bother teaching students proper handwriting. Cursive has been placed on the endangered species list. And books? Who has time to read books when there are video games, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and emails on which to catch up.
I’m not against technology; I use it daily. I just think we’ve lost something vital to being human beings. And the deeper we fall in with technology, the more likely we’ll never recover.
Why do we write? It’s a simple enough question. The answer, well, that’s not quite as cut and dried. Every writer has his or her own reason for putting pen to paper in an effort to entertain, educate, or just let off a little steam.
I’ve been writing since about the age of eight. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. My motivations have changed over the years. Early on I wrote with the notion that I’d be the only one reading my work. I’d put down on paper some grand idea I’d find wandering through my head, an event from the day, or maybe a song or a poem. There has always been a need for me to create with word combinations belonging only to me.
In my teen years, for the first time, I wrote knowing that others would read my words. These writings took the form of record and concert reviews published in my high school’s newspaper. I went to a large school, with a student body of nearly 2500 members. People began to give me feedback, advice, compliments. I absorbed it all like a sponge. I felt a calling on my life; a calling to write.
To this day I am not able to make a living with this craft. And that’s fine; I didn’t take up my pen for financial gain. If and when it comes, that will be the clichéd icing on the proverbial cake!
I still enjoy writing. Whether it’s a novel, short stories, book reviews, or blog articles—like this one here—writing is my passion. I also find pleasure in writing communications to friends; letters that I’ll compose using pen and paper, stamp and envelope. I just don’t write every day the way I once did. Mood is my major motivating factor these days. Do I feel like writing something today? If I do, what form will it take? That’s just me, though.
Some writers must create each every day. Many even establish a daily word count. The day is a complete loss if they’ve not sprinkled a thousand words across their keyboard. It’s all selective depending on the individual.
Ann Frank needed to write. This girl’s existence consisted inside four walls of a silent room that became her family’s prison for many years. She wrote every day, detailing a life most human beings could never imagine. Writing is all Ann Frank had to keep her connected to the world—as dark as her world became.
Harper Lee didn’t need to write. Oh, sure, early on she wrote short stories, essays, and articles. But then she wrote a novel called To Kill A Mockingbird and basically walked away from the craft. Her sister claims the author knew she’d never again approach the level of success Mockingbird achieved—no matter the caliber of book number two. So why bother? Rumor has it there’s an incomplete book with the Harper Lee name attached to it. We’ll probably never have a chance to read it, though.
J. D. Salinger, though he ceased publishing his work after the mid-1960s, continued to write, taking a few hours each and every morning, creating stories only he had opportunity to enjoy. Upon his death, it was revealed that several of Salinger’s unreleased manuscripts would be published. The man loved writing but hated the attention his work drew from across the world.
Some people have never written anything outside of personal letters to friends and family. That doesn’t make them any less a writer than those with books or short stories on their resumes.
Everybody has their own reasons for writing—regardless if they publish or not.
Why do I write? I write because I have a passion to write—just not every day.
Why do you write?