The Responsible Manifesto
No matter how fast you type, every piece of creative writing begins with a single letter. By putting one letter after another, word after word, sentence after sentence, the author begins a journey; an adventure without bounds, without constraints, yet with unlimited energy.
It is a wondrous moment each time an author releases the power that pulses from the blank page, when the push from the committed word coincides with the pull of the white space and the pace quickens at the expense of everything else.
Creative writing takes the author step-by-step on a path that is being laid brick-by-brick and at a speed that exists outside of time. Yet, the path is rarely straight and there are many branches along the way that are a cause for reflection.
The irresponsible author may choose to pause and ponder only to be lured away on a tangent that begins to dilute the very energy that empowers him. He begins to slow and the journey he once took is no longer his own. He crawls on bricks laid by others whilst his mindset is invaded by the faceless who sing to him with monotone voices until all energy is drained and the spark fades.
The creative landscape is haunted by the ghosts of failed scripts and jumbled texts, drifting across over-descriptive microcosms and chasing characterless characters. These are the evidence of the author who has lost his way, who strayed too far from the path of who he truly is, and who wrote without responsibility for himself.
The responsible author will take the path of reduced resistance. There is no ponderous choice or dramatic change in speed, only a feeling in the gut that empowers and encourages. To be true to yourself is to be renewed throughout the journey; to take that momentum and use it smash through all barriers put in your way.
A responsible author shines a light across the creative landscape that banishes ghosts and his true voice has a strength that oppresses all others. His energy is a beacon to others that says he is the master of his own journey, he walks his own path, and he can never be lost for a responsible author will always know the way.
It is not enough for the author to simply choose whether he will become responsible or not, to do so is an irresponsible act in itself. The responsible author will instill in himself not only those values that allow him to become responsible, but he will also choose to understand those that do not.
The RESPONSIBLE author
I believe that, as an author, the first responsibility I have is to myself. I have the ideas, I research the plot, I create the characters and I drive the story forward. When I look into a mirror it is my own reflection that I see and when I read my writing, it is my own energy that I feel.
I believe that, as an author, if I stay responsible to those elements that I judge to be worthwhile, then I can look back at my work and be proud that I wrote it, regardless of critique, or of audience.
I believe that, as an author, there are aspect of my writing that I need to adhere to so that I am able to produce the best writing that I possibly can. These aspects may feel unwieldy at first, but I believe that the more I bring them into my work, the more they will become second-nature.
I. It is RESPONSIBLE to understand collaboration. Although the author’s work is his own, he understands that his experiences are not. He listens to other people talk, he watches other people go about their every-day lives and he reads stories of those he wishes to emulate. In this way, he is the eyes and the voice of many others. As such, the skill in his writing is understanding which ones to write about, and which ones to ignore.
II. It is RESPONSIBLE to understand commitment. The author’s work is more than just words on a page, it is a statement of trust; a message. And that message should satisfy the reader that the commitments made during the writing balances their commitment in deciding to read it.
III. It is RESPONSIBLE to understand escapism. Whenever a book is opened, the author’s writing should whisk the readers away from whatever normality they are experiencing and release them into a world of your own making. If he can make them scream, make them cry, or make them laugh then, after the book is closed, they will thank him for it.
IV. It is RESPONSIBLE to be rich in the written word. The author should surround himself with his work, take his best words and put them on a pedestal for all to see. He should want to pile his favourite paragraphs high until he has so many that they come tumbling down around him, immersing him in verbs, nouns and adjectives.
V. It is RESPONSIBLE to communicate within your writing. The author can only tell a story once, but a good author will write a story in such a way that the very words will communicate to the reader. The responsible author writes in a way that communicates on a number of levels and allows the reader to often return with questions and still receive answers.
VI. It is RESPONSIBLE to allow your writing to grow. The responsible author should not expect to write the perfect text every time, nor will he. Rather each attempt at writing should instill some knowledge, or energy, that is passed forward to the next attempt. In this way, the responsible author’s portfolio overall will grow through the power of the individual works.
VII. It is RESPONSIBLE to be true to yourself. Any author can produce a piece of work, but the responsible author remains true to the work that he has undertook. The first person to ever read an author’s work is the author himself and if he hasn’t written it in a way that moves him, then he should be responsible enough to change it. If not, it will never attract the energy, nor the strength to be completed in the way expected, and to do this is to disrespect not only yourself, but also your readers.
The IRRESPONSIBLE author
I believe that, as an author, there are aspects of writing that I invite into my creative process where they can become a hindrance to what it is that I am trying to achieve.
I believe that, as an author, each of these external aspects does nothing but de-motivate me to the point where I become emotionally and creatively drained. It is during these periods where I feel that I’ve lost control of my own writing and am adopting artificial practices in an attempt to please others.
I believe that, as an author, if I choose to be irresponsible to my creative process, then that is reflected in my writing, and the writing suffers.
I. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to be concerned with constraints. The only constraints in any writing are the first word and the last word. Everything in-between belongs to the author and he should do with it as he pleases. The irresponsible author will cast constraints about him like chains that draw all creativity away and leave him drawn and subdued.
II. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to focus solely on financial reward. The author that focuses purely on financial reward has already chosen to write for the jingle of a coin rather than the turning of a page. The irresponsible author will become assimilated into the commercial machine and, like a cog or a spring, he will relinquish all creativity and individuality to become part of the collective.
III. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to write for fame. The creative spark does not need an audience. If that flash of light, when the pen first touches the page, isn’t nurtured by the author himself, he cannot expect anyone else to do it for him. The author should be famous within his own work, within his own characters, and that should be enough. The irresponsible author will focus beyond that which he can easily achieve and will aim for something beyond his control. By doing this, it is likely that the irresponsible author will fall short of his mark and will achieve nothing.
IV. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to disregard the language of writing. Regardless of native language, the author must ensure that the basic elements of writing, be it spelling, grammar or punctuation are adhered to. Early drafts or rewrites can be excluded as the emphasis at this point is ensuring the writing is completed. The irresponsible author fails to adhere at any stage at the writing process as he either lacks the knowledge (and fails to learn it), or continues on (and fails to implement it). Both approaches pour disrespect on the text and its readers.
V. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to blame others. All authors will reach low points in their writing when they feel they have lost their way, or their work isn’t good enough. It is important at these times to focus all the time and energy in the right direction – the writing. The irresponsible author will often try to suggest the fault isn’t his and somehow the issue resides outside of his control. This can, and often does, begin an ever-decreasing circle of anger and frustration that generally ends in self-defeat.
VI. It is IRRESPONSIBLE to stop writing. All authors write. Any authors that don’t write are not authors anymore. The author who is serious about writing will ensure that he sacrifices whatever he can to continue to write. The irresponsible author wants one more book to read, has just one more walk to take, or needs just one more early night. He is followed by unfinished characters like stray dogs yearning for meagre scraps and his sleep is filled with unfinished dreams.
The best writer is not necessarily he who writes best. To be convinced that the Responsibility Manifesto is about becoming the best author is a misunderstanding. As with all things, there can only ever be one who is the best at any given time. In this aspect, each author is but one of a myriad of authors and the vast majority will fail to become the best.
The Responsibility Manifesto is about becoming the best author YOU can be – and there is only one of you. In this aspect, any author is in the position whereas if he is responsible to himself, then he cannot lose in his bid to become the best he can be. However, if the author allows external forces to influence his writing too much, then he chooses to be irresponsible and he will truly never become the best author he can be.