By Rae Martin
Of all writers in America’s brief history, none stand as tall as a literary giant as Samuel Clemens, who went by the moniker of Mark Twain.
Twain, the defining author of American literature, is probably also its most prolific.
The depiction in the documentary Mark Twain: a film directed by Ken Burns, is true to what I’d heard. The level of detail to which the featurette descends makes him a bit of an inspiration.
I see in Twain the one trait all successful writers must have, an almost instinctual one. It is the characteristic of keeping it raw.
When writing a work of either fiction or nonfiction, nothing must be held back.
It is necessary that it be dark, scathing, caustic; it has to be something old done from a different perspective, or something new entirely. It mustn’t conform, and preferably should make those who are rigid and conservative loathe it, or something close.
Just far enough outside the box that someone reads it, but not too far that it doesn’t sell.
If a devout Catholic, or an otherwise religious person, can read it and not be offended, then it’s a bit weak.
If you’re reporting a story that the government doesn’t want in the public eye, and then balk due to controversy, then you’re either a sheep, or in their employ.
If your parents can read it and wholeheartedly agree with it, then you’ve lost the spark.
Maybe the reason I believe these things to be true can be attributed to my youth, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
And I’ve a feeling that Twain would agree.