Belief is optional, but trust is not. I was recently commissioned by a close friend to assist her with the year’s inaugural round of career applications. Standard operating procedure: peruse the brief, build the ordnance, and deliver with instructions on how, where and when to fire. Nobody else in recent memory has refused to deploy my words. I don’t know what her three second-opinions squawked to dissuade her, nor do I know their names. I once wrote a trilogy of short stories titled “Names”, “Games”, and “Faces”. My structural approach and use of the second-person was a bit of a gamble, but when I discussed this with the words on the page I was assured that I could trust them. We still share a moment once in a while, when someone dredges up the old glory days in a snipping of conversation. Nothing eases the gut like an unbeaten track record – or so I used to think.
Belief: sometimes helps, sometimes hinders. Personally, I have this suspicion that every microprocessor and mainframe in the world will one day sprout legs and flee its masters to establish a second First State somewhere in the Pacific ocean. Cloudy with a chance of matrices, to be exact; however, I understand that most people expect their mobile phones to be revolutionary in a slightly different sense. Of more importance than believing what you write is the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. Being able to do this also gives your words greater gravity with their readers. If I am a distributor of pre-cellophaned careers, for example, I want to drop my scarce packages where they are likely to yield the most fertile crops: namely, where their recipients can write with flair about how they plan to use these packages to get me a good harvest. I don’t want to know that they like the colour of the cellophane, or that the Allen-Key inside is something they’re passionate about, or that they’re allergic to shrimp paste. Writing is communication, and communication is knowing how to piece together both sides of the story.
Trust require two sides of the story. My writing only hits the mark when I believe it’s for a worthy cause, of which handsome remuneration is only one. If I don’t trust the other party to treat my words with care and respect, I’ll politely decline their offer. Like the gooey insides of a tamago, trust has a tendency to harden if you apply too much hot water. If you’re not writing with conviction – with belief in why you’re writing, and hopefully what and how as well – then you’re only damaging your own package. Talk to your words if you have any concerns. They’re the ones being fired, not you.