Maybe We Should Be Nicer to Those Medieval Writers - Op-Ed Piece

Being a writer is not easy.

All those words you have to write.

Then they have to make sense.

Then you need to add more words that also have to make sense.

Someone has to edit your stuff without changing it too much.

And then, somehow, you have to convince complete strangers that reading those words you wrote is worth their time in their busy life.

The one that has someone drinking Red Bull to stay awake.

That someone has Dunkin to get through the afternoon.

Where a person is working two full-time jobs and barely making ends meet.

You have to convince them that somewhere in their hectic schedule your words are good.

I mean, you’re not Shakespeare. You’re not changing literature, but you know, the average reader should want to read it.

What happens if you succeed with this?

You get those words down.

You finish editing.

You keep your vision after someone else goes over it.

You persuade strangers to read it.

Now what?

Now you get to do the whole thing over again, with the next piece you write.

Isn’t writing worthwhile?

Believe it or not, writing could be worse, much much worse.

I think we should reevaluate how we assess writers of the Dark Ages.

Like any of us would write a great book then either.

Let’s see all the things stacked against a writer then.

1. Death is everywhere.

In Europe, one-third of the population died of the plague.

It’s tough to build an audience with only dead people.

Nevermind the emotional toll that would take on someone.

You bury a few friends and then go up to your local bar and hear of the awful disease that is killing everyone and then tell me how eager you are to write.

Eager to write? I’d be happy to be alive.

2. No computer, or you know, modern stuff.

You can’t type up a few thousand words on a coffee-filled night.

You gotta do it the old-fashioned way.

Write it up by hand.

All of it.

Edits are included here.

You thought editing sucked now, take away your laptop, computer, phone, printer, and the internet and then tell me how much it sucks.


3. No Shakespeare, or anyone we all take from today, to inspire you.

You can’t find inspiration from all the greats we have today at our disposal.

Sorry. They don’t exist yet.

No Poe.

No Shakespeare.

No classics.

You are left with The Bible and a few early classics to read a million times.

You better like interpreting stuff cause you aren’t getting much variety here.


4. No way to spread your work.

You’re born before the printing press which means the only way for your words to be read by the masses is for a scribe to jot it all done

And sorry, but the word of God, and Homer, are more important than your melancholy book of poems or your summer thriller.

5. You’d probably not want to write about death.

Remember the whole thing about people dying a lot?

Well, it probably would be smart not to write that stuff, or people will think you’re being a heartless dick who doesn’t grasp the tragedy around them, or that you are some kind of sadist who is happy that people are dying.

Today, writing of death is fine, since not a lot of people are dying.

But doing that during the Plague seems cruel.

Let’s all back off with the assumption that Medieval writers were stupid or less qualified than writers today.

They had to deal with more problems than any of us do today.

Maybe they weren’t dumb. Maybe everything was so stacked against them that only extraordinary people and extraordinary circumstances could prevail.

Only the true writers survived back then.

All others were killed, literally and figuratively.

What do you think? Would you be a better or worse writer if you were alive in the Dark Ages?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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Greg Luti is an editor, and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.

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