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Writing for Love

Navigating AI

By Geoffrey Philp Published 11 months ago Updated 10 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2023
92

A few days ago, I had an interesting conversation with my friend, Randi Gray Kristensen, who teaches freshman composition at George Washington University. Halfway through our discussion about AI, I suddenly realized that she was approaching the topic as a scholar, and I was coming at the issue as a writer. "In this wilderness of information," as Randi put it, she was concerned that students would turn in papers they had copied from Bard and pass it off as if they had written it. Randi emphasized that she taught her students how to formulate a thesis, gather facts not subject to AI hallucinations, make inferences based on the evidence, and deduce logical conclusions based on sound premises. This is why in academic circles, scholars like Randi ask questions such as "Who did the research and for whom? How was the research conducted, and who paid for it? Did reputable scholars in the field review the results?

On the other hand, I am not worried about whether other writers use AI to get grants or win writing contests which I entered in the hope of earning a few shekels to pour back into my research and writing. I am sure that in the future – or maybe it’s happening right now – there will be a writer who will win a prize or a $1 million contract for a book that ChatGPT wrote. Good for them! I will cheer them even if I have lost--but not too loudly--because they are living their dream of what it means to be a writer. For me, being a writer doesn’t mean winning prizes—although they are nice—or, as my younger self believed, becoming a darling of critics. If I did, I'd have stopped writing long ago when I published my first collection of short stories, "Uncle Obadiah and the Alien."

I love the stories in that book, especially the title story about a Rastaman, Uncle Obadiah, and his encounter with an alien. When my publisher at Peepal Tree told me the book would be reviewed in a prestigious literary journal, I was elated. I thought that I was now in the big leagues. But not for long. Whereas I felt he would compare Uncle Obadiah to Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul, an early influence, he blasted the collection. But he didn’t stop there. He wrote an e-book to ensure no one ever bought the book. I was so depressed I couldn’t write for another six months. I was angry, but he taught me an important lesson. I had to ask myself, for whom am I writing?

After picking up the broken parts of my ego, I realized I needed to return to my first love. Writing for myself. I remembered writing the first draft of “Uncle Obadiah,” one of the first, if not the first Caribbean sci-fi story about a Rastaman whose ganja crop is destroyed when an alien who resembled Margaret Thatcher crash lands in his ganja field. Preposterous, isn’t it? Or is it? I loved playing with the idea--never mind that it deals with neocolonialism. I wanted to discover how Uncle Obadiah, a man committed to ideals of peace and love, would face not only the loss of his means of income but also the destruction of a 6-foot statue of Haile Selassie he’d built with his own hands. Would he continue to be attached to something outside of himself? Perhaps it was a lesson I hadn’t learned, or maybe I would soon learn?

I brushed off the insult, and I started writing again. I wouldn’t let any "guy," as Brother Bob would say, stop me from writing. I view AI in the same way. I will continue to write for myself. To discover the patterns in my life and those around me and transform these experiences into a poem, short story, novel, or an essay like the one you’re reading.

So, if I have any advice for young writers--I’m being asked this question nowadays – is it the gray hair that’s giving me away? --I’d say write because you love it and don’t worry about the other things. Yeah, I know, you gotta eat. And trust me, I’ve done things that gave me night terrors. They will pass. But never give up because of "guys" or AI. For as Brother Bob would also sing in “Ride Natty Ride,” “And it's the fire, it's the fire/ That's burning down everything/ Feel the fire, fire/ Only the birds have their wings." Write because you love it. It's the only way to live and create.

By popular demand, here is the link to "Uncle Obadiah and the Alien": https://www.amazon.com/Uncle-Obadiah-Alien-Geoffrey-Philp/dp/1900715015/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2ETZSX5TYOX0G&keywords=geoffrey+philip&qid=1685044100&sprefix=geoffrey+philp%2Caps%2C150&sr=8-4

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About the Creator

Geoffrey Philp

I am a Jamaican writer. I write poems (haiku & haibun), stories & essays about climate change, Marcus Garvey, music icons such as Bob Marley, and the craft of writing through personal reflection & societal engagement.

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (27)

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  • Test3 months ago

    Awesome story!!! Loved it!!!❤️

  • Justine Crowley5 months ago

    It is great to win awards as a writer, and to earn both passive and active income from it; however writing also provides higher altruistic benefits.

  • Excellent work and a deserved Top Story

  • ENKASAH WAN10 months ago

    https://vocal.media/motivation/a-first-step-towards-wealthy-life

  • Majekodunmi Zaynab10 months ago

    Good story

  • Raghavendra S Rao11 months ago

    Good story.

  • Derrick Mbabazi11 months ago

    Nowadays I'm getting fed up with AI creations, especially in fiction.

  • Nadiia Diia11 months ago

    Wow, what an inspiring and heartfelt story! Your journey as a writer, filled with ups and downs, showcases the resilience and passion required to pursue your craft. I admire your determination to write for yourself, despite the criticisms and setbacks you've faced along the way. It's a powerful reminder that writing should come from a place of love and personal fulfillment.Keep writing from the heart and creating meaningful stories that touch the lives of others. Your passion shines through your words, and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

  • Malik Aqibislam11 months ago

    This is the absolute BEST! What an incredible idea! I love how creative you got within each of the communities. There are sooo many fantastic stories in here. I admire your dedication, Loryne! Seriously, this was superb. Thank you so much for writing and sharing these. Amazing work. 💓

  • Omggg why would they write a book to urge people to not buy your book???!!! That's ridiculous! I'm unable to fathom it. Thank you for sharing this Geoffrey. Congratulations on your Top Story! I've subscribed!

  • Darwin channel11 months ago

    pls like and subs my story too

  • Kristen Balyeat11 months ago

    Love your message here- such a great reminder! It’s hard not to get caught up in the money and reviews, but if our writing/art is made for anyone but ourselves then it just becomes another job. Thanks for the inspiring read and congrats on top story!

  • MARIE ODEMS 11 months ago

    I AM SO VERY TOUCHED MY YOUR MESSAGE!!! YOU ARE AMAZING KEEP GOING YOU WILL GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE AMAZING !!!!!!

  • Guzman11 months ago

    nice

  • Zahoorhussain11 months ago

    Its a good for those whose want to earn

  • Phil Flannery11 months ago

    As a grey haired writer, I understand little of AI but think it can't be good for creativity. Much like my real children, I'm protective of my stories and would rather not see them mistreated or have their worth diminished by a computer program. That being said, I liked your take on the subject.

  • Igba alfred11 months ago

    Motivational good

  • Lana V Lynx11 months ago

    I like your approach. I am also an academic, and it really upsets me when students use AI to write their essays and homeworks without admitting they used AI, passing the work as their own. Of course you cannot punish them for plagiarism as AI is more of a "collective resource." I even encourage students to use AI for initial research and prompts but always caution them against taking everything without fact-check and verification. They still have to make the work their own, edit and refine the AI raw writing. Otherwise it's just lazy and on the verge of cheating.

  • Congrats! Top Story!! 💝💝

  • Good Job and nice also

  • Abraham Adesanya11 months ago

    Nice one

  • This comment has been deleted

  • Stephanie Hoogstad11 months ago

    I think we all go through at least one phase—if not multiple phases—of forgetting to just write for ourselves, to write what we love, instead of writing for others or for the money. I’ve been going through it myself recently, being too afraid to write because I’m worried that this idea might be stupid or that idea might offend people, but the microfiction challenge and getting back to my roleplaying roots have helped to start nudging me past that. This article is really encouraging, too. If you can get past someone blasting you in such an unnecessarily harsh way, then I can get past anything my own mind can throw at me. For the record, this makes me want to read your collection, especially the story about Uncle Obadiah. The way you describe it, it sounds quite interesting.

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