Daniel Davis shares his thoughts on writing in our latest guest author blog post. Daniel’s story ‘Buy One, Get One’ appears in Issue 1 of Headland. Daniel is the Nonfiction Editor of the Prompt Literary Magazine. His own work has appeared in various online and print journals, and his novella Black Blizzard was published by Twenty Or Less Press. You can find him at www.dumpsterchickenmusic.blogspot.com, or facebook.com/DanielDavis05 and follow @dan_davis86 on Twitter.
I write because I know how. It’s not all I know: I can cook, play guitar, and other things that would look nice on a dating profile. But I’ve been writing longer than I’ve done those things. And I’m really only a halfway decent rhythm player.
To me, writing isn’t anything special. That’s probably borderline sacrilege, but it’s true. It’s not a way to examine the world, or God, or humanity, or popular culture, though I suppose I’ve used it to look at all those things. My writing isn’t even a reflection of myself; even when it’s based on something that happened to me, I don’t see much of myself in my own words.
I do the bulk of my writing in my apartment’s second bedroom. I’ve got a desk and a window facing a rather dismal backyard, replete with trees and a bunch of dead branches that never seem to go away. I keep my books in there, my guitars, and some knickknacks. Also a Ouija board, because I’m cool like that. I keep the door closed; this has nothing to do with writing being a sacred act that should remain unsoiled by the rest of the world, and everything to do with my mischievous In truth, though, I can write pretty much anywhere. During the summer, I’ll do some writing with a baseball game on in the background. A couple years ago, I wrote the bulk of a novel while working as a bank teller—literally, while working. One constant: I do some of my best writing of an evening. Even this, though, is purely practical: it’s fit my schedule for almost two decades now.
As you may have gathered, I’ve never felt that an artist has a special place in society, or has a particular insight into humanity. I don’t even like referring to myself as an “artist,” though I suppose I have to suck it up and admit that’s what I am. You see, writing is just what I do. Some people have origami, or whittling, or Sudoku, or yoga. I write. I see nothing spiritual in it; I see nothing special in it. Some do, I know; I can’t argue, since to each his own, but I generally avoid the conversation with those folk, just because I know they’ll give me a funny, sympathetic look, as though I’ve just argued that dogs are more intelligent than people. (They are. Cats are not. I know of what I speak.)
All of that said, let me break out my soapbox. Writing is important. To me, yes, of course; what the hell would I do without it? But I honestly feel that storytelling is the most important form of communication available to humanity; it’s how we pass down beliefs, legends, mores, etc. etc. etc. But does that make me, as a storyteller, any more important than a carpenter, electrician, or evening news anchor? I don’t think so. But it gives me my own little purpose in this world of ours.
I’m willing to settle for that.