The other day I took a head of lettuce from the refrigerator to use in our sandwiches for lunch. I broke some leaves off and began washing them. At the time, I was also trying to think of a subject for this blog. I looked more closely at the lettuce and began to think—all lettuce is green; all lettuce has leaves that grow from the stem forming a “bunch” or “head” of similar parts. Observing the leaves more intently, I concluded no two were exactly alike. They were all different sizes. Some were more ruffled across the top than others. Color varied with shades of green, barely distinctive, but they were there. A few leaves had small tears in them while others were whole and crisp. The outer leaves had a slightly different texture from those near the center. Those closest to the core were quite tender while those on the outermost reaches had a strength and “toughness”—almost a protective quality.
What does all this have to do with writing? Simple. Just as each head of lettuce is individual in its make-up, writers—and what they write—are individual in their execution of the written or spoken word.
Every writer forms a story from words, whether fact or fiction, from their own ideas gleaned from their personal experiences. They say what they want in their own special way using their own definitive style.
The words and ideas writers manipulate are as varied as the leaves in my head of lettuce. The vocabulary may be simple or extremely technical; they may bring the past to life or reflect contemporary lifestyles. They may convey the exact meaning the writer intends, or might even be a bit “off-key” in their context, thereby confusing the reader. It happens. An author writing a romantic novel may wish to express the events in a highly moralistic way—just hinting at human sexuality. Another author graphically spins out erotica. Different “textures” expressing unique experiences.
What of the writer who has a talent for writing “cozy” mysteries, while others choose to paint pictures of horror in a reader’s imagination? They appeal to different audiences. Mary Higgins Clarke vs. Stephen King.
I could go on, further illustrating the uniqueness each writer possesses in his/her expression of ideas. Whatever the reader may think, more people today are writing, or are in the process of learning what a good author must know and practice in developing necessary skills. Ideally, someone who begins with one sentence and moves on to another and another until he/she has exhausted their subject matter, will find people interested in reading what is offered. Some will make it to the top of the best-seller list. Most will be moderately successful, if they pursue all that is necessary to make others want to read their work. Others will “keep it in the family,” only entering a small circle of friends.
To make my point, no matter where we are on the spectrum of writing, we choose our place, and decide if that’s our comfort zone where we want to stay, or if we want to push farther to test the limits of our talent. What is important is to exercise our talents to the best of our ability.
Like my head of lettuce, each writer shares a unique role in the world of authorship.