Q –> Generally writers and poets consider themselves a notch superior than the reader. What’s your honest opinion? Most poetry and many articles in top-tier publications zoom right over my head, making me wonder whether the author is patting himself on the back for operating in a rarefied realm that lies beyond most mortals’ understanding.
A –> I have been a working professional before turning to writing, so I can safely say that writers are just like any other human being. When I started my working career, I wanted to prove my worth. I wanted to see if I could gain respect for my work. I slogged day and night to hone my skills and get better at what I did. Once I got better at what I did, I learned new things and got better at them too. There came a time when I was looked upon with respect by my peers and superiors. I climbed the corporate ladder and gained confidence in myself and my work. I reached a point where I’d tried and tested many things and finally could tell, with confidence, what would work and what wouldn’t give the desired results. But I wouldn’t always be right; sometimes we won’t get the desired results with the method I thought would work.
Writing is a little different, though not much, in the sense that writing is an art that requires the artist to break his/her boundaries and become wild and crazy. Nobody likes to read a bland narration of anything – fiction, non-fiction, memoir, travelogue… It is said that more the craziness, better the skill because wild imagination (which is necessary for creative work) draws power from crazy. When Einstein or any other scientists came up with those wild ideas they thought were possible, they were considered crazy. But unless you go there, try and fail then try again, you can’t create wonders to offer to the world.
Now, I believe that almost all writers know that they’re writing for their ‘readers’. They know that without readers, a writer can’t be. Yet, unless they write what really affects THEM (the writers), or whatever is in their crazy lil’ hearts, they can’t hope to make an impression on the readers. So, in effect, you’re writing for yourself. I know what I’m saying is confusing and many writers face this confusion every day, but it is said that if you write what you think your ‘readers want to read’, then your work isn’t as impressive. I think this is because it is human nature to do the best for ‘one’s own self’, while if something needs to be done for the others, one cannot conjure that ‘passion’ in one’s heart. So in effect, you’re writing for your readers, but you’ve to write for yourself… you’re writing for sane people, but you have to put on your insanely crazy hat to do a good job of it. All this confusion leads a writer to write something that is sometimes absurd and unbelievable for the readers, but sometimes it’s crazily brilliant.
I think that the writers (or artists) who have mastered their skill and gained respect for their work may, sometimes, consider themselves superior, but I highly doubt it. I think they’re only being ‘confident’ about their work, and sometimes, as we all know, confidence can tilt toward over-confidence without the person realizing it. Yet, at other times, it may just not strike a chord, it may just not work out like they expected. Something like what I faced as a working professional; only there, it cost us money, while for a writer, it would cost him his reputation.
Also sometimes, I think they’re only trying to learn a new thing (or skill) and may not be as impressive (like J K Rowling was super hit with Harry Potter, but when she tried a hand at another genre, people didn’t receive her work well). I think such attempts should be encouraged, because at least they ‘tried’. Nobody learns to walk on their very first attempt – they fall, pick themselves up, then try to walk again. But when you’re in public eye (like writers or other artists are), people tend to judge them mercilessly, not even considering them as a human being with a heart and feelings. So the artists and writers have to grow thick hides and do their thing, nevertheless. No person in the world can make every other person to like him. Writers know this well. They know they can’t satisfy each and every reader. So they know there will be criticism of their work and they’re expecting it. However, if the number of admirers of their work are more than the number of critiquers, they feel satisfied. It’s just a regular day at work, no superiority or inferiority and no comparison actually.