To do this, you need to abandon the very idea of becoming one.
The irony is that all the best writers never wanted to be successful, and those that did either turned out to be far from the best, or were forced to pacify, “rollback” their ambitions, and refuse to work “for success.”
Sooner or later, but the realization came to them: you must first become a human being, to take place as a person, to understand life – and then there will be something to write about, They understood that first, you need to write essay for me, and the words you need will be found.
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A successful writer – a successful book
Of course, this process is endless – becoming oneself as a person. Moreover, it is impossible first to “become a man” and then “to become a writer.” These processes can only proceed hand in hand, friendly, hand in hand.
There are no boundaries for perfection. But that is why it is interesting because then it will be just right to speak of “being a human being” not as a reality, but as an attitude to life, as a moral (human) position, and right there about a creative, writer’s position.
Look, the best authors have always found themselves together with humanity in the most significant moments for it, they have always shared the fate of the world as their own, were at the forefront of their era. L.-F. Celine, Remarque, Hemingway, and Hasek fought in World War I; Exupery, Vonnegut, Golding – in the Second (despite the fact that almost none of them was then a writer).
Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Anne Frank, an ordinary girl, spent her last days in the wild trying to create a work of art from her diary. Miraculously, the psychologist V. Frankl (who, after his release, restored the destroyed manuscript from memory to the last comma) and the philosopher Elie Wiesel, managed to avoid death in a concentration camp. Vladislav Shpilman, for example, was a pianist, not a writer – but he wrote a masterpiece about his own life in occupied Warsaw…
These examples relate only to the terrible pages of human history, but countless writers shared human joy, they themselves became its creators. As you know, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin wrote well, cardiac surgeon Nikolai Amosov had an excellent literary style, diplomat Pablo Neruda wrote beautiful poems, and what can we say about the stories of film director Ingmar Bergman!
There are a lot of illustrations in general, but these writers have one thing in common: they all, first of all, were and wanted to be people, and not, in fact, writers, they lived and studied life, plunging into it with their heads. They all strove to be full-fledged, developed people, and not “artisans”, professional hacks who can do nothing else but sit at a desk and scribble on a typewriter. This is true not only for writers of the twentieth century but also for writers of all times.
Of course, this also looks like some kind of imaginary contradiction: is the writer really not a person? Or is it possible that “becoming” a writer, you cease to be a man?
Apart from a person, there is no one to write to – a cat, a turtle or an orchid in a pot cannot compose anything. How can you be a writer and not be a human, if just a couple of paragraphs above it was said that these processes should go hand in hand?
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And why even separate the concepts of man and writer?
Unfortunately, life itself breeds these concepts everywhere, substituting one for the other, and young authors are especially susceptible to falling into this trap.
Quite often they dream of great fame and big fees, supposedly going hand in hand with literary success, they crave recognition, fame, unthinkable print runs, adoration of fans, hunt for newspapermen, tempting offers from publishers, and other things, etc. And very quickly (if not immediately!) They find themselves disappointed when “nothing works”, when they are not published and not recognized.
Many at this stage and “cut off” when they see that the popular picture of literary happiness turns out to be unattainable, and cease to “be writers” (which, by the way, is not the worst option). Others, those that are more enduring, continue to create, still relying on their “castles in the air”, cherishing the hope of a better outcome.
And still others – and, alas, there are quite a few of them – in pursuit of the “attributes” of a sweet writing life, disfigure themselves and their texts to such an extent that they themselves forget who they are, blindly surrender to the conjuncture, “keep a weather eye open” – sometimes, however, even creating bestsellers, wildly popular today, but doomed to oblivion in a couple of years.
We propose to abandon the picture itself. It is a stereotype imposed on us by mass culture, by the ideals of bourgeois society. A mirage hanging on the horizon and misleading. Of course, some writers get it all – all this quicksand. But most are not!
The popular landmark is unreliable; even if you do it “right”, you may not succeed. Imagine this: an alien from the future tells you that as a writer you have no chance. What then? Will you write or refuse? Do you want to devote your life to a deliberately hopeless cause? The problem is that aliens from the future don’t exist. Everyone will have to answer this question himself, taking into account all the risks.
But basically, all the best that was created by mankind was created by him not for money and not for the sake of money – and even more so not out of a desire to become famous. Immortal creators have always proceeded from something eternal, unshakable, inalienable from humanity, which is why we reach for their works again and again, admire them, re-read, quote, study.
The greats, it seems, turned not to the idea of success, but to the very idea of creativity as the meaning of life, they did not seek fame but simply tried to create something, to say something – and unselfishly, without any honor, to give: for the good of all of the people.
Today, apparently, there is no talk of any disinterestedness, as well as of the benefit for all people. Even the seediest authorized woman dreams of at least a tiny fee, her “15 minutes of fame”, that for his labors something “will be rewarded”.
However, one can also dream of becoming a great writer, of “eternal glory” and an avalanche of honors. But this is one and the same picture only painted with paints of excellent brightness and on different canvases.
Relying on it to do nothing will also fail because following its plot ruins the very thing: creativity sacrificed to the “golden calf” or “quicksand” ceases to be creative, dies on the altar of opportunism. The essence of man has never been to adapt to something – on the contrary, man has always adapted the world for himself, changed it, equips it. Adaptation to the world is a lot of an animal, not a man.
The market today poses an animal task for every person: adapt, guess, contrive. All the more so for a writer. Indeed, without conquering the market, bourgeois, capitalist success is impossible, and as soon as a writer “conquers” him, he is “successful”, he is “alive”.
Here you need to create something that will be sold, that people can grab from the shelf and take it to the checkout without any hesitation. And, as the writers themselves know very well, what sells best usually has neither artistic nor ideological merit.
In many cases, modern bestsellers turn to the most primitive, mundane that can be found in a person and sometimes even inhuman, bestial, absurd. The point is only to sell; momentary, decay and impulse – that’s what is appreciated and important.
The choice here for a writer is not great: if you don’t create a bestseller, you are a big zero, but if you create it, it means simply zero.
But it’s not about writing something that won’t sell or won’t be read. Perhaps no author wants to remain unknown or write something that is not interesting to anyone. Here, as sophisticated people like to say, nuances and details are important.
After all, many well-known successful authors in their interviews say that the joy of success, which has turned their heads, passes very quickly, and emptiness comes after it. Emptiness – because in the pursuit of fame, they forgot to say what they really wanted. It was sheer hypocrisy.
“Why write? To hide the veils, ”says Anne Lamotte in her book for writers, Bird by Bird. “If you write simply, sincerely, and truthfully, your readers will be able to recognize themselves in the heroes … If the truth lives in your soul, there will always be a person who is interested in it.” In the world of goods, the pursuit of truth, not of gain, comes from the aspirations of the human spirit itself.
A writer, in love with truth, enters into a struggle against everything that is in the inhuman world, against all this carnival pretty tinsel, with the help of which they try to convince us that everything is beautiful around.
In good, really best works, the human world fights against the non-human world, against the surrounding wretchedness, baseness, meanness; it is always a leap towards something better than there is, an attempt to act on the basis of genuine human values developed throughout our history. A good writer, especially a classic, was always the one who knew how to tell the truth better than others and never, never was afraid of it.
Is this skill popular today? Is it in demand on the market?
Obviously not, as long as it is about learning to say what is being sold and writing what will be bought. Here it is necessary, on the contrary, to speak only about what everyone is already talking about; that for all the brilliance of its presentation, sometimes plunging the public into shock, for all its ostentatious novelty, it does not carry any genuine innovation, no discoveries – especially since it is often simply deceitful, feigned, tasteless, superficial and stupid. Yes, yes, stupid – a lie is always stupider than the truth.
But not only today this skill is not popular. It has never been popular at all. People who at all times have taken to “cut the truth-womb”, fought for truth, beauty and freedom, not only did not bestow honors, but often simply physically destroyed.
Destroyed by those who in this cruel world of lies settled well and did not want to change anything, but only wanted to lie from dawn to dusk. For them, the truth-fighters have always been inconvenient and remain so to this day. It was unprofitable and dangerous to write in a real, truthful, powerful and ruthless manner.
Despite this, throughout all the centuries, there were certainly sought out those who could not and did not want to put up with the surrounding injustice, with hypocrisy and suppression of the truth. Often exposing themselves to mortal danger, the hearts of these people flashed like fires in the middle of an eternal night, and illuminated the way for others with their light.
And it is them, and not the army of stupid sycophants, that mankind remembers and loves, it is their lives that make up the glorious pages of human history, all progressive people have learned from their works at all times. They weren’t necessarily writers. They could be simple workers or even slaves – in general, uneducated people. All of them entered the struggle, risking their lives not for the right to be famous or revered but for the simple right to be human and to live like a human: for themselves and for others.
It goes without saying that this right also means the ability to create. Only for some reason, the modern world is still very afraid that a person should have this right, that he should be a person at all.
All he needs is a self-sustaining profit-making machine that follows orders and does not ask unnecessary questions. A writer, reader, shoemaker, pastry, customer service manager or web programmer – all of them, if they resemble a person, may not be. They may consider themselves people, but in fact, they are only a tool for creating profit, puppets in someone’s hands, soulless appendages of capital…
All this must be remembered for those who want to become a successful writer – of course, if at the same time he wants to write something worthwhile as well.
Writing like this, without ambition, calculation, “guarantees” or the desire to “express yourself”, will be much more difficult than writing for the sake of all the popular glamorous nonsense, because then what you really want to say comes to the fore.
The writer begins to listen attentively to his inner voice, to the voice of truth in himself, which all this time sounded in him at a muffled volume. He will find it necessary to write only on the grounds that he is a human being. The risk of dying in obscurity disappears, because fame, popularity, cease to be the main thing in his activities. The main thing is to change the world for the better, truth itself and movement towards it – no matter what.
The second point is that the world, woven of cruel contradictions, must be able to understand because you cannot change what you do not understand. A writer must think by definition. Another question is how? Philosophy is the history of the world thought, a process with its stages and levels, and every writer, whether he knows about it or not, in his thinking also finds himself at a certain stage of this process, “chooses” for himself this or that philosophy.
Of course, many good writers have never been familiar with philosophy as such. But as soon as they all tried to understand the world around them, they began to philosophize. And then, of course, it turned out to be important whether they philosophized well or badly.
The better a writer knows how to think, the more subtly and stricter he thinks, the better he can write, the more meaning in his words, and the more beautiful the style of these words. Because only the right thinking can correctly reflect the world, draw it in the writer’s work. And for this, you need to learn to think – no less than learning to write.
Fortunately, today there is a philosophy that allows you to understand the world very accurately – that is, in its contradictions, movement, change and struggle. It is called dialectical materialism. The writer, of course, can not refer to it and move in his attempts to understand the world himself, keeping his one and only, “original” view. But it would be better for him to take into account everything that mankind has already managed to develop on this issue.
It would be like switching from a bicycle to a space rocket. Then his gaze will become truly original (wide), and the voice of truth will begin to sound the most powerful.
Indeed, in attempts to write only from the position of “I see it this way”, ignoring the culture of thinking, the writer has a great risk of not seeing anything at all, of being in his attempts at some primitive level, rushing with his frozen gaze, as Joan of Arc about it … Man is able to see only through the eyes of all mankind. Otherwise, he is blind.
Learning to think and learning to write is like learning to walk. For some reason, no one teaches a baby to walk in a somewhat “original” way at once: on the head or on one leg, or even backward. First, he is taught to walk like a human being, just as humanity itself learned to do it, on the way from a four-legged monkey to a person walking on two legs.
There have been many attempts, mistakes, pain, and bruises. But what is funny: if on this path the protohuman primate had not picked up a stick and with its help would not have begun to change the world, to adapt it for himself, then he would not have learned to walk on his feet, and would not have become a man. He just wouldn’t need it.
And creating a bestseller isn’t all that tricky. There are special courses, master classes, educational books and videos; a whole industry is working for this today, from the writer himself, his co-authors, proofreaders, editors, publishing houses, and ending with promotions and marketing campaigns.
All this is already well thought out, adjusted, put on the conveyor. Although this also has its own difficulties, this path is the easiest, it is a beaten trail, a high-speed highway. Bring your money to it – and you will not be taught that yet.
But first, you will be ordered to throw the stick away…
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