Beyond the Rhetoric

 
 
 

Sunday Snippet: Toni Morrison on Books

January 12th, 2014 by

Toni Morrison

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

When I was pursuing my degree at UBC, one of the books that I was assigned to read was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. The highly controversial story approaches such subject matter as racism, incest and rape. Given this kind of context, it can be a difficult read, but is a worthwhile one, offering some incredible insights into the world of a poor black girl in post-Depression era America.

Walk into any library, stroll through any bookstore, and you’ll find a near endless supply of material to consume. You’ll find fictional works like The Bluest Eye that may trouble you, as well as more light-hearted fare, cookbooks, biographies, and comic books. But even with this broad range of material, there is always something else. There is always a gap. There is always a new story to tell.

And that’s really at the heart of what author Toni Morrison is telling us in that quote above. If you want to read something, but it doesn’t seem to exist yet, then you just may have a moral obligation to write it yourself. It could be incredibly esoteric, but no matter how narrow the focus, there is an audience.

While I would not necessarily say that you should write a blog or a book for the sole purpose of selling as many copies as possible, I would say that no matter what you choose to write, you must remain true to yourself. Speaking for myself, I didn’t have much in terms of a guide or a mentor when I first started freelancing. There are things that I may have done differently. And that’s why I wanted to share my personal experience and expertise with a guide for people who are considering a freelance career.

That’s why I wrote and published Beyond the Margins. I wanted to provide the online (and offline) community with a useful resource, helping freelancers get started on the right foot. It’s a book that I would have wanted to read before I started.

The kind of philosophy expressed by Toni Morrison applies both to works of fiction and non-fiction equally. If you have a story to tell, if you have knowledge and experience that would benefit others, if you have a curiosity of a subject that has not been suitably explored by others, you need to put those thoughts into words. You need to write it.

And if you don’t think you’re much of an author yourself, you can always seek the assistance of a professional writer and editor. You may already know one. :)

Image credit: Angela Radulescu (walkingthedeepfield) on Flickr

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One Response to “Sunday Snippet: Toni Morrison on Books”

  1. Ray Ebersole says:

    While I totally agree with the idea of the quote, actually getting published as you know is not easy. Going through the traditional methods takes years of rejections before you maybe get anything accepted by a publishing house. J.K. Rowling had to get rejected 12 times before the 13th publisher accepted the first Harry Potter novel.

    The other methods available today are more viable with eBooks, etc. Just writing it, saving it and printing it out are major accomplishments that can fulfill your inner self.

    You have the unique perspective of being a writer and having something that you thought needed writing. It’s something I have been thinking about doing for my tech support, a “Dummies” type of book. I’m keeping Evernote’s on different chapters. Maybe sometime soon.

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