I have never claimed to be a writer, so I don’t this is much of a big reveal. Granted, I never claimed to be an editor either and that seems to be what I do more than ever nowadays. Not editing my own stuff, not editing anything renowned or “the next big thing.” No, I find myself editing papers that my fiancee is doing for university or editing things for a Colombian friend that I think is for her job. I suppose since I have no employment of my own as of yet, knowing I’m helping assist someone with something is better than doing nothing at all. At the same time, this blog post isn’t inspired by me editing Latin American women’s papers. This blog post is inspired by my book club. I was in a book club once before, we only read a few books, but we managed to meet up in person and get a tattoo to forever solidify our book club bond. I do not think that is in the cards with this current iteration (with new members), but ya never know. I read plentifully anyway, but I’ve always liked book clubs for forcing me outside of my preexisting comfort zones and reading things I wouldn’t normally be attracted to. I think we’re currently doing something where we’re reading a different book from every different continent to escape the western-centric novels that tend to be the support beam of literature. This brings me to the book at hand, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
I am not a writer, nor have I ever claimed to be, but often I think to myself that I could write something. And when I say something, I mean something better than what is being read in the mainstream. I’m not the art of writing isn’t difficult or that I actually could write a novel that isn’t utter shit, but sometimes you’re reading something and thinking this is easy, this is breezy, and even I could do this. Though at the same time, it has to be an art form in and of itself to create a “beach read” or an “airport thriller” or something in that vein. Listen, I’m going to come across as like I’m insulting professional writers and I just want to reaffirm that yes, I completely understand this is only my own ego talking and I do not think I could compare to anyone popular enough to pursue writing words as a living. It’s just similar to a notion when people that maybe create student films, or are aspiring filmmakers see a pile of crap movie with a big budget and think that they could easily do the same, if not better for a fraction of the cost. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say people can tell when things are bad and it’s a common reaction to think you could do better if given the same parameters and support. Again, I’m not defending my egotistical thoughts here, because every person has them regarding some topic at least.
Listen, I am not a writer, so please stop me giving me words of affirmation and praise and saying I totally am in the top percentile of guys who write a blog sporadically named Hank. Man, I really had higher hopes for that last sentence until I took a swig of this sparkling tonic with root beer flavor and that has really thrown me off because this is awful. Probably says a lot about me that I thought a root beer flavored sparkling tonic would have any potential of tasting anywhere near acceptable but that’s a topic for another time. Oh right, The Sympathizer. Just because a film wins a Best Picture Oscar doesn’t always mean it’s going to be great, and by that same definition, a Pulitzer prize-winning novel isn’t always guaranteed to actually be the best thing released that year. At the same time, it does give it an air of clout, and one thinks to themselves, at least in my case, that this isn’t going to be objectively awful at least. Or if it is awful then maybe I’m objectively bad at having any taste. I did book this book for the club, not because I had any connection to it, but because I googled lists of the best novels from Asia in the past few years. Was it already highly regarded, a popular hit? Sure. I’m not trying to unearth undiscovered gems, I’m just trying to read a decent book from every continent, rinse and repeat. All I can say is that I’ve read lots of novels, novellas, short stories, biographies, plays, essays, memoirs, history books, non-fiction, academic journals, etc. I am just trying to say that I’ve read a lot of things throughout my years and I like to think of myself as well-read.
Being able to read well, being well-read, probably helps one be a better author, a better writer, but I’m not one of those, nor have I ever claimed to be. If I was, I’d probably be better with syntax. Or hire an editor to make people think I was. I don’t know, I guess I just really wanted to write something about this book. I’m only about 60% done with it, and my other book club member is only at around 5 or so, but like, all I’m trying to say is that that book proved to me that I am not a writer. It also proved to me how few people are writers, even published authors themselves. Every once in a while, you just read something and you think “Holy mackerel, how did a person come up with this?” It could be a plot point, some characterization, but for me, it’s prose. I have a vivid imagination, I can think of some fantastical things; however, I just can’t craft a sentence that blows the socks off of someone. Though yes, I know all my adoring fans would say otherwise. It’s just damn. Initially, my intention was to write a lot more about this and yet here I find myself 1000 words later and I don’t even know if I hit the purpose I had planned. And that’s okay because I am not a writer. So it goes.