It is said that given an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of typewriters and an infinite amount of monkeys, the monkeys will eventually write the whole works of Shakespeare. And that essentially is a mathematical fact. Given enough random input over enough time, everything that could ever be typed will be typed. The problem I have in my pursuit of writing genius is that I am only one
monkey man and I only have one typewriter laptop, and only about 40 years to do it.*
If you have ever played any iterations of the games Tekken or Mortal Combat you will know that winning one of those games was a mythical act of randomness which you would only be too happy to take credit for if it ever happened. Those games are called button mashers because, well, you mash buttons. There are obviously strategies to go with it and there are secret moves that are unlocked by certain button sequences but to the
lazy untrained person, it is just a case of hitting all buttons and hoping for the best.
And so enters life.
Or certainly the life of a writer. You sit there hitting buttons over and over and over again hoping to land upon the write sequence of words to bring success, but more often than not you get beat – HADOUKEN! That is pretty much where I find myself at the moment. I’m sat in front of my laptop which has all the necessary elements to bring all the successes I want in life but I seem to have mislaid the manual to success.*
There are great writers who have cracked the code, and the code can anything. It could be long, such as the 6 books and 3 volumes of Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. Or the code could be just 3 short paragraphs, as seen in the poem Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. The best thing of all is that there are endless sequences and codes to be discovered at any moment. It is the creative minds that mine these codes; they dig them out from somewhere
Of course that leads one to determine what success is, and naturally, that is a personal question you can debate with yourself. But for me, and for many, it is to have a career writing. The problem is that all the codes and sequences I have created so far have not brought ‘success’, and now I’m just stood there getting punched in the face by Sonya Blade.
Not having immediate success with a code or sequence you bash into your keyboard doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, however. You only have to look at Plato or Franz Kafka to release that sometimes the words and sequences you create only become relevant after you have died. The special move code for Raiden in Mortal Combat 10 wouldn’t work in Mortal Combat 2 for instance.
I do suspect however that writing about Mortal Combat and monkeys with typewriters will not suddenly become relevant in 2094 in the same way Franz Kafka broke onto the scene in the 1930s. In fact, Kafka received so much criticism for his work when he was alive that he instructed all of his unpublished manuscripts to be destroyed when he died (something which was not done).
So here I am at the gates of success, all on my own with only a laptop and the internet to figure out the correct code or sequence to open the gates. It could be an email to a certain person, a tweet to an organisation, it could be a manuscript or a book. The code could be anything but I know it exists because there are new bestsellers every week. Someone new wins Best Screenwriter or wins the Pulitzer Prize. The codes and sequences are endless and I’ll sit here at the gates until I’m able to craft one good enough to open them. And by craft, I mean desperately smash buttons endlessly in the hope that I luckily hit the right sequence at the right time and FINISH HIM!
*Not write the complete works of Shakespeare – that would be easy, all I’d have to do is copy.
*Not that it would matter much. In the old computer games, the special moves were never listed in the manuals.
P.S If you haven’t already guessed yet, there is no simple trick to writing success, other than being exceptionally lucky of course.
Read more, it’s good for you.