On the Expectations and Conduct of a Writer

On the Expectations and Conduct of a Writer

A writer’s primary motivator should be anticipated praise. Adulation, ovation, commendation–whatever it is called–he should dream of these as he puts his pen to paper. The writer should constantly craft parallel scenarios of the beautiful things that would be said about his unborn work. His imagination of such acclaim must run unfettered, spurring him on to the development of a fantastic work. After all, what marks a work of art as great if not the acclaim that trails its impact on men and society?

A writer must dread ridicule. He must despise the very thought that his soon-to-be-crafted story might turn against him and become loyal to the hawks–the negative critics. As he writes, he must remain true to his story by being its only critic: the only one to bear the whip and the healing balm for this growing child; the sole wielder of the chisel and polish for this rough gem. It must be, that he takes the time, to weave a tough cocoon that shall encase him and his developing story; keeping him from the prying eyes of the hawks.

Once in his cocoon, he must feed all he has gleaned over time to his story. His knowledge of grammar, of punctuation, of figurative speech and any other artistic device in the English language known to man—and to him, must be sifted through and the right bits fed to this growing child–his story. He must leave nothing out in his examination; for no great thing has ever gained its strength from feeding on inferior offerings. He must treat his story as though there would be no other; as though there would be none greater.

In his cocoon, the writer must not be under any illusion that the hawks have receded. Yes, he doesn’t hear their sounds but they shall be near…waiting. He should not be deceived that his only fear is the hawks. He must prepare for the coming battle with the eagles that shall cause more harm than the hawks; and the vultures that shall wait for his story to die.

When the story is complete–his baby now fully grown–the writer must have the patience and maturity to put it to the test. His whip and his chisel must work again to separate weakness from strength. His mental energies must work their polish and balm on the story, taking it to dizzying heights of articulation, brilliance and creativity. He should not forget the allure of the anticipated ovation. He should be greatly afraid of the ridicule that shall come should this baby grow to become a weakling.

When the writer is satisfied his story has turned out to be the gem he imagined it to become, he must then release it to the birds of prey that he had hitherto shielded his story from. At this time, he must welcome ridicule however and from whomever it comes. He must destroy his cocoon and release this beloved child of his to the blinding light of the sun and the ferociousness of the birds he feared. He must not join in this fight that now begins–his story shall fight for itself. As the battle rages, the writer must understand that he is now to love the eagle, the hawk and the vulture–the birds he once hated and feared. He must do so, for this battle would only make his child stronger. This battle would show him the weaknesses in his child and the extra boost he should give its strengths. Observation, rather than combat, shall be key in this round of refinement.

It might be that his beloved child shall–strangely, die in this battle. He can weep–yes he can, but he must never resolve to bury his beloved story in the sands of criticism. No he should not! He should never! Every story has a right to live!

When such a death occurs, the writer must kneel before his story–this dead mutilated child that shall lie feeble before him, and invoke his muse afresh. He must understand that his muse shall not come galloping towards him with chariot-loads of endurance and hard work (these the writer must find from within himself). His muse shall only whisper a thought that shall stir up his zeal mightily. When this happens, he must begin the rites that shall bring forth this vanquished story from the dead, taking care to burn the incense of knowledge and skill. He must not mind the birds that shall cackle and peck him. He’s only focus should be the resurrection of his story; for the cackling and the pecking can do him no bodily harm. Though they dampen his spirit, he must see and receive them in good faith, translating the jeers and pain to motivation.

And when this is done, like a phoenix, the writer’s story shall slowly rise. Slowly, but surely, it shall rise with more shine. It shall rise to face the blinding sun and not be scarred. It shall rise to accomplish its genetic task and ride together with the mighty birds in the sky. And when they are high up in the heavens, these birds, together with this stronger and much more beautiful story, shall cause the now gathered clouds to rain down showers of praise on the writer.

57 thoughts on “On the Expectations and Conduct of a Writer” by chemokopi (@chemokopi)

  1. “A writer’s primary motivator should be anticipated praise.”

    I strongly disagree.

    If you anticipate the praise and you don’t get it…what happens?

    I like the entire thing sha. I like the ending…how you admit he must expose his story to the critics he once shielded it from.


    1. @seun-odukoya: Thanks bruv! I appreciate the commendation. I knew that “amoral” line would shock people but I strongly believe that deep down, every artist desires to be appreciated for the IMPACT they hope to make with their writing. Whether such anticipated praise (appreciation) would be popular or not, it should drive the writer towards perfection; perfection in the quality of his message, and the clarity and sophistication of his style.

      1. I agree with you, Chemo, although I will say that writers want recognition (i.e. something that tells them that their story has made a difference) rather than outright praise. If we didn’t want recognition, why publish our stories?

        1. @TolaO: True…and you put it beautifully sir.

  2. I like the way a regular article was weaved into an interesting piece.

    1. @teewah: Thanks. Your words mean a lot.

  3. I’m looking forward to reading Eletrika’s comment on this. I could vote her as “critic of the year.”

  4. @doremi, really?
    Chemo, I agree with so many of your words here, although I’m yet to figure out those I don’t.
    You did well with this.

    1. @babyada: lol. Thanks for your words. You are actually right where I want you to be. *wink*

  5. I like the ‘sacred’ aura u ‘built’ around the writer and his work here…
    Anticipated praise? Never…what happens when it’s shot down faster than a kite? u die of depression? I blv that ppl write because they want to make an impact not because they anticipate praise…nahhh

    1. @adaobiokwy: Thanks for your kind words. Don’t mind me, I like all this “sacred” scenarios.

      “…what happens when
      it’s shot down faster than a kite? u die of
      depression?”. Funny enough I answered this questions in paragraph 6 and 7. But I can understand if you missed it. The opening sentence was programmed to destabilize the reader a bit…lol.

  6. @chemo-u did well with this one,i quite agree with most of ur points….nice

    1. @obionyinye: Thanks a lot. I appreciate your kind words.

  7. sorry pal, i disagree.
    the primary concern of the writer should be the perfection of self expression. that too is his motivation.. yes, the true artist may be affected by critisicm, but it cannot stop him from writing, but rather compels him to search deeper within himself. praise is cool too, but believe me, too early praise can also be harmful.
    many great works have had poor receptions. moby dick, ulysses, hunger, the recognitions etc. many inferior works have had a great noise made about them too
    you’re right about the critics. they are everywhere you turn, you cant escape them, they’ll probably tear your baby to shreds. lol.
    but if you’re a true writer, you keep going on.

    1. @drzhivago: Thanks for your expose. Funny enough, we are on the exact same page on all the issues you raised!

      “The primary concern of the writer should be the perfection of self expression.” I agree with you…but I feel that the the expectation of honour, glory, critical acclaim etc. can be a very powerful incentive that drives him towards perfecting his art.

      For who will praise that which is not good? So the expectation of praise forces you to do what is right…don’t you think?

    2. I totally agree with you on this. Still this article is good for us to think on as writers on what motivates us and what to expect.

      1. @Myne: Thanks. Your words are encouraging.

  8. Whether we like it or nt,this article captures to a large extent,the essence of writerhood.It is a robust entity that reveals the motif and expectations of writer.My dear u did good with this.One love.

  9. I enjoyed reading this, not only because I largely agree with the sentiments expressed, but because of the lyrical way you wrote this, turning a fairly mundane activity into a sacred endeavour. Well done, @chemokopi.

    1. Thanks @TolaO. The reception this had, makes me think of doing some work in literary non-fiction and literary fiction.

  10. Alexander Emmanuel (@phronesis)

    You have really said a lot in this piece. I like your courage for daring into the deepest fears of the
    ‘Writer” and embracing his fears as a material for perfection. Every Writer desires to make an impact in someway.

  11. I cant believe i missed this.
    You give us much faith.
    I am motivated.

  12. Beautifully said @phronesis thanks!

    Thanks also to @TolaO, @kaycee and @sambrightomo. You are all too kind!

  13. This article made my day,very useful/ motivational piece!

    1. @iykewifey: Thanks a bunch. I am glad you like it.

  14. Great piece.
    I agree with you that a writer should anticipate praise, but I see it in a slightly different light:
    A writers main objective should be to perfectly express himself to his readers, however, to attain that perfection, he needs a motivation; that’s where the anticipated praise comes in to ginger him.
    The comments preceding mine are all very sensible but I’d say I totally agree with you. I’m quite motivated!

    1. @chimzorom: Thank you very much! You are right…and you have summarized the matter beautifully.

  15. Just like in the, “Save the last Dance” a writer needs being there,
    but like the, “Drum Line” he’s not alone.
    Yet, he believes he “can fly!”

    1. Chemo (@chemokopi)

      @ostar: His majesty speaks! Thanks for the input.

  16. Praise, Recongnition, Making a mark; same perception different expresion. I am sure you all are reffering to the same idea. Well what ever it seems, i must admit that this article spured me up. I am always amazed at the degree creative minds can weave words to wholesome whole. This is a full bite i wont be tasty in a while.

    Good job sir.

    1. Chemo (@chemokopi)

      Thanks @salami1010. You encvourage me with your words!

  17. Lelouch Lamperouge (@lelouch)

    Good, very. I like it’s perspective.

    1. Chemo (@chemokopi)

      Thanks a lot @lelouch! We continue in the art!

  18. Chemo this is a beautiful write up. Well done

    1. Chemo (@chemokopi)

      Thanks @aturmercy. I am encouraged by your words.

  19. Say it again and again.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Chemo (@chemokopi)

      @ostar: Thanks for eating at the table of his Immaculate Majesty!

  20. Gee…does it get any better than this? Give me a pen ,quickly I say!

    1. @dottaraphels: Here! A pen! Lol. Thanks a lot for commenting. I appreciate your kind words.

  21. RIO (@riowrites)

    This made me smile. I agree with your message and I like the picture you painted. Well done.

    1. @riowrites: Thanks a lot. You are too kind!

  22. @omojola: Thanks very much man, I appreciate your kind words!

    No, I don’t have a book out yet. Publishing my works on NS and other platforms will do for now…and thanks for the faith! Will do alert you if anything of such happens.

  23. “A writer’s primary motivator should be anticipated praise.”

    First line. Turns out the anticipated praise from my muses is what I value most. So you see? It’s not easy separating my muses from my works.

    1. hehehe…@jaywriter, your muses should better mind themselves o. If they prevent me from reading “misses of missuses” I would jail them o! Let them bring out their loudspeakers and massage your ego joor! lol

  24. @chemokopi; I can’t believe this has been lying in somewhere without my notice.
    This is beautifully crafted. I particularly like the symbolisms you infused in this. It’s great!

    “A writer’s primary motivator should be anticipated praise.”- Now that is the gray area of difference for me.

    It is true that our vanity is sated by this ,but it should go beyond this, in my opinion for a writer.
    I think a writer should be buoyed more on the passion for writing than any expected adulation. It is only passion that will not break him. If the praises did not come after the hours of long-suffering he’s put into the work in the first place,sentiment may erode his sense of objectivity and cloak every bit of motivation left in him, and then he may seek for other forms of recognition through other means (if he has other competing interests on that scale of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) or jettison the whole thing.
    I found this expounded in an essay sometimes ago and here it is:
    “Genius does what it must and need not concern us here. Shakespeare wrote ‘Hamlet’ for hire and Walter Scott ‘The Bride of Lammermoor’ that he might add field by Tweedside. They had their monument without a thought thrown that way. And Keats, who said that his name was writ in water? Did he not know that it was writ in ink, which grows blacker with age? But let the smaller man do consciously and with premeditation what his betters did by the grace of God.”

    Th operative sentence here been “they had their monument without a thought thrown that way” .
    Now is any of these writers unknown to any of us? Is there brilliance lost on us despite the fact that they couldn’t have imagined the veneration to come from what was just an occupation , that I believe was fuelled by their innate passion/inherent genius. I think it is only passion that can drive a man to such height not adulation.

    How many of us here on NS have even said our workers that created the most buzz are the ones we least expect.

    True passion, I believe will take you farther, all things being equal.

    1. Hmmmm…nice one @midas. But you still fell into my trap, lol. I wanted that line to jolt people and create a bias. I agree with everything you have said. The position of the article is not that praise is the ultimate thing but that expected praise is a powerful motivation for expressing yourself. In some cases, praise could even be from yourself!

      Thanks for your very articulate comment and your words of praise. You are too kind!

  25. this is sweet to read..lol. nice

    1. @silvia: thanks!

  26. Yea praise is a powerful motivator but it can also be the undoing of many…shld d praise nt come der is d temptation to give up

    But passion? Passion drives us on even in the face of criticisms and ridicule…

    Great write up!

    1. True @topazo but praise can be a writer’s undoing if he is not matured and passionate about his craft. Matured meaning he is thorough and careful in weaving his story so to garner the maximum praise (critical acclaim) for the worth of his work, and being receptive to all kinds of criticisms. Passionate meaning even though his work becomes panned in the end, he will never give up writing or improving his art.

      That’s really the summary of this work.

      Thanks for your comment!

  27. @chemokopi
    people write for different reasons
    as inspired in different seasons
    giving birth to thoughts and ideas
    consumable by the sound and healthy in mind
    giving great words, notions, concepts and signs
    of progress and general human advancement………..

    1. @innoalifa: enjoyed that comment! Thanks for your beautiful and kind words.

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