Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Passion or Obligation

I have two approaches to writing. I write either out of conviction or obligation. When I write with conviction, writing is such fun. I would like to always write like that. But it’s doesn’t always happen. Some days, I end up writing because I have a Blog, and because of that Blog I feel obliged to write.

Now although writing isn’t categorized into ‘passionate’ or ‘obligatory’, readers know. Which leads me to a whim I’ve always had. I wish bookstores categorized their books that way. It seems to me, the only books worth reading are those written by a passionate author. Fact or fiction is of little matter. Truly the greater appeal is not so much plot or complexity, but the spirit with which the thing was written.

And that leads me to wonder if “The DaVinci Code” was written out of a calculated obligation to strike at a sensitive nerve that has forever overwhelmed society? Society’s need for implicit understanding of all mysteries. Was the story written as a political project or passionate project? I tend to think of the story as a passionless work because writers of passion never display dogged and deliberate attempts to weld theories into fact. The passion of their convictions spontaneously does that for them.

But, from my own perspective, I have to tell you, that in reading “The DaVinci Code”, despite the shock value, despite the expert analysis at work, and despite complexities that are stunning, unexpected, and wisely sorted, I find passion lacking. The characters are not bathed in blood, sweat, and tears. I just find them way too reckless considering their frail cardboard construction. In fact the author gives more life-giving breadth and breath to the characters in DaVinci’s paintings, then he gives to the characters integral to the plot.

I haven’t the right to suggest this was part of Dan Brown’s endeavor. But still it is a final reflection about writing that I want to share with you.

In writing, obligation wearies content. Passion is so easily marred and chaffed by more practical considerations. The need to make a work marketable. It is like anything else in life. Passion wanes when one is obligated to pursue their craft according to price indices, consumption and demand – with obligatory modifications to widen the appeal. So obligatory writing always has that stilted bit, that surgical bit, that is there to appease journalistic, editorial, investigative, or skeptical minds. And though these implants are carefully integrated, these are the parts most damaging to the wondrous appeal of a passionate work.

So now, I confess. Because I have a blog, I must write something, and so this is my ‘obligatory’ rant for today.


Matty said...

I had heard so much about the book, that I bought it while I stayed at the hospital. I love to read with a passion, so I thought there was something wrong with me when I read it.
That book was positively boring, no passion, no heart and no soul., but I persevered, wondering what it was I was missing?
Usually you can tell after a few pages if the writer has passion. Those are the books you just can't put down!
That's what I tell my sons, find your passion in life, and do it, whatever it is. You can always tell when people truly like their jobs whether they are a teacher, a nurse, a garbageman. They have a passion, it lights them up from inside,,,,but sadly, its a rarity.
That's what we lack, real passion in our lives,,,and I don't mean sex,,,,,okay, that too!

Roberta S said...

matty, from your comment it sounds like the book impacted or should I say, didn't impact us, in similar ways. Cause yes, like you, I'm totally in favor of passion in most everything -- maybe all things -- but then again, maybe not. I'll need to ponder that more as I drag out the broom and clean up the dirty dishes.