Is the purpose of non-fiction writing to preach to others what one has mastered, or is it to preach to the self how best to conduct oneself?
I was listening to an author of a non-fiction book where upon being asked a question about that book, he mentioned that it’s been long that he’s written this book and that he has forgotten some of the content.
Wait what? An author himself forgot what he wrote in a non-fiction preachy kind of book which was selling like hotcakes?
Does that really happen? If so, what’s the purpose of writing non-fiction?
Well, after having written non-fiction for long now, and coming across many other authors in similar area, I have come to understand that no writer can recall everything s/he has written. That is why many authors themselves have to go through the chapters of their own book before an interview.
The question then is, if the author her/himself has forgotten and is therefore not doing the things s/he’s writing, what’s the purpose of writing them?
I have also come to understand that the purpose of non-fiction writing is not to preach by portraying oneself as this know-it-all enlightened guru who has transcended the realms of mere mortals and has stepped on to the world of the higher spirit beings.
Instead, the purpose of non-fiction writing is twofold. One, because what is being written is coming naturally from within. Two, because what is written is not just for the good of others but also of oneself.
Just because I write on the power of habits does not mean I have insanely awesome habits and am living the best life I can. It merely means that I have understood the power of habit by experimentation and follow it to the best of my heart’s content. With errors and irregularities no doubt, and yet I believe in it and therefore have written about it. Why write? Because writing is effortless and natural and it reminds me to do as I have written every time I begin to falter.
To think of the writer as the preacher and hence the guru would be to believe in a truth which barely exists. A folly, and yet we are easily susceptible to making this error.
The purpose of genuine non-fiction writing is not just to preach to others but also to remind the self to act as per one’s own written word.