by Eric Chaet
There are columns of advice, online & in print, even whole monthly magazines & books, on how to be a writer.
But they are like the courses that qualify one to be a teacher in public schools, or to be a doctor or therapist in one of the medical clinics, or to be an engineer in a government agency or large firm, or to be an accountant in a similar firm, or, likewise a lawyer in a big firm, or a so-called investment banker: they assume that the goal is to satisfy some mythical customer or customers, called “The Market,” & to get well paid, soon.
I need to get paid to go on living in the world the way it is, as I need air, water, & nutritious & non-toxic food.
But I aim to change the world, not to fit into it as it is.
Of course, I must fit into it, as it is, until I can change it, sufficiently to survive to do the work necessary to transform it.
(I don’t mean I can be doing it all by myself!)
There’s nothing particularly holy about being a writer. One can transform the world, or not, as a teacher, medical practitioner, engineer, lawyer, accountant, investment banker (that is, someone in charge of allocating accumulated resources to this or that project, for the benefit of these, at the expense of those), or as a member of a governing coalition, or opposition to that governing coalition.
In each case, there are those who are strengthening the way things are now, & those who are transforming it.
It’s possible to do some good strengthening the way things are now—efficiency is advantageous—or to do a lot of harm. Likewise it’s possible to do some good transforming the way things are, or to do a lot of harm. (How many revolutions led to worse tyrannies than what preceded them, at the cost of millions of lives?)
I try to do no harm, while transforming the way things are now, as a writer. If I were to regularly read a column or subscribe to a magazine for a writer like me, it would have to be called something like Pioneer Writer. I’d certainly be interested in magazines or columns for Pioneer Teachers, Medical Practitioners, Engineers, Lawyers, Accountants, Investment Bankers, Rulers, Dissidents, Mothers, too. There are already such for small farmers, & I consult them.
Like all pioneers, my first order of business has to be surviving while I organize & execute an unprecedented way to create something others recognize the value of, & pay me for, enough so I can trade for what I can’t do for myself. That is, for now, I must learn to do, & do, all I can for myself, while also producing what will contribute to transforming the way things are now, in a useful & non-toxic way, toward more justice & mercy.
There is certainly no shortage of people claiming to be increasing justice & mercy, & soliciting resources to continue their work! Most of them are claimers, not achievers, & they are diverting attention & resources. I hope I am not one such!
Pioneers must deal with the deluded, the psychopathic, fraudsters, pathogens, & parasites, as everyone must.
Those claiming to do what I am doing, & always trying to do better, are my most immediate obstacle to being attended to & effective.
It is up to you to decide whether I am doing what I am doing, &, so, worthy of your attention & support—or merely posing. And to decide how effective I am being. If I’m approximately useless, you must not waste your precious time & attention. I am always working to distance myself from the uselessness from which I emerge. I suppose, I hope you are, too.