A Great Writer Speaks – Fiction

“Writers write,” Herman Reisz informed the students, “in order to become a better writer, a writer must write—every day.” Reisz was one of America’s most renowned authors; his novel, No More Light for Scott, published in 1992, was an instant classic and read by every undergraduate studying English. Noted critics like Thomas Stulls praised the writer: “Reisz is perhaps the most significant writer of the last few decades. Not only do his words bludgeon the reader with their profundity, they are also of great import. Reisz is a tremendous literary gift; the same cannot be said of many.” Herman Reisz also lectured frequently at all the top state and private universities where he bequeathed young wannabees his ultimate wisdom.

“Writers MUST live life. Observe people. And, of course, write from the thumping in your chest.” As Reisz was proffering his knowledge he scanned the numerous faces, hungry and hoping to absorb some form of greatness from an aging man with spectacles. He knew that most of them were talentless. Most, he figured, probably wouldn’t be able to construct a memorable line or image, at least, not on purpose. And even the ones with talent, he knew, would most likely be swept-up by the trap that is academia. He was thinking all of this as he was lecturing. He was able to do the two things at once for he had given the same advice, in the same way, over and over. He likened it to the involuntary ease of blinking or eating with your mouth closed. Reisz didn’t hate what he had become—it was reality.

“The best writers bare their skin,” he heard himself say. Now he was watching one of the girls in the third row: Long, brown hair, head rested in her hands, green eyes gazing at him. “…they open themselves up. They have to. That is the obligation of those who wield the pen…” Reisz started wondering about how much that girl’s parents must of forked-over so she can have middling discussions about Blake or David Foster Wallace. And all to what end? So that hack writers can get paid to lecture for only the very few bother to even purchase their buy their pulp? We may never know…

“In addition to being ever-present with reality, the best writers also offer messages of grave significance…” Reisz didn’t know what that meant, and was certain that no one else did either, but they were lapping it up, he could tell. Maybe that girl really is interested in literature and advancing the art-form, he wondered. Perhaps, she is less interested in fame or becoming a “name writer,” like Toni Morrison, Dave Eggers, or Herman Reisz. But so what of it? Most people will most likely never read her work, either because there are too many other writers flooding the market, or because most readers don’t care about originality, but would much rather read something that agrees with their views or utter schlock.

This was when Reisz stepped away from the lectern and turned to the whiteboard. He picked-up one of the pens and scribbled something big enough so that everyone can see (and he underlined it, twice): It was the answer to everything, so if anyone couldn’t see (or read,) Reisz read aloud, “Cut the crap!” He ended every lecture the same way, and knew it was all nonsense. He also knew that, years from now, the books that he published that were so highly-regarded would never be read again for he knew that he wasn’t a very good writer. He had no talent, but he never did feel an ounce of guilt for pushing mediocrity. Reisz coasted through life, writing a few more nondescript books, eventually retiring somewhere within the mountains, waiting for his pleasant life to take its leave.

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7 thoughts on “A Great Writer Speaks – Fiction

  1. “Herman Reisz also lectured frequently at all the top state and private universities where he bequeathed young wannabees his ultimate wisdom.”

    Interesting character. It seems he’s aware of his own facade, but comfortable being a genuine fake. How would it feel to be him, I wonder?

    • I think I should have dove more into his psychology. I was inspired by a lot of the hack writers who dole out the same, generic writing advice over and over; surely they most know that they are hacks, but yet continue doing what they are doing because they get praise and get paid as well. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, Herman Reisz however…

      • I don’t know what a hack writer is, personally. I could tell you what a hack pathologist’s work looks like, though. And I’ve always wondered how some of them can bang out rapid half-hearted diagnoses with no conscience. I figure writers deserve to get paid whether I appreciate their work or not. They should be paid well because they’re doing some of the most important work in the world, shaping human culture and values. It’s a high calling.

      • I’m not against writers getting paid, but rather frauds peddling the same cliche advice as if it were gospel. If a hack writer is able to get millions on his terrible book then good for him.

      • Oh, I see what you’re saying. Yeah. I guess I just don’t feel qualified to identify hack writers. For all I know, I’m a hack. In fact, I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as an “infallible hack” since I have a lot of opinions, but no publications.

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