Being a Writer
I sent out a blast on Twitter the other day, looking for interviews and reviews for my soon to be launched book Stealing The Marbles. This morning I received an email that, ultimately, humbled me and made me feel just the littlest bit ashamed of myself. This person had checked out the book blog, apparently read only the most recent post, and completely misunderstood what the book is about, relating it instead to their particular genre which, from what I could tell, is SciFi/Fantasy.
My first reaction was a knowing rolling of the eyes and an unthinking dismissal. Obviously a newbie, I thought as I moved on to other things. Not long afterward, a little voice whispered in my ear, all too loudly I might add, “you were there once”. That stopped me, mid-keystroke, and I sat there at my desk, staring out across time at a young boy sitting before an ancient black Underwood with bent keys and later, as he aged, a pale red IBM Selectric that snapped the words so hard onto the paper it left dents, pounding out story after story, mixtures of Science Fiction and teenage/young adult angst. I could see the box, marked ‘burn this when I die’ on its side, that still sits in my storage unit, filled to over flowing with those early attempts. That was when the shame hit. I had forgotten, if even for a moment, where I had come from.
That boy’s goal then, as it still is for this not so boy anymore man, was to become a Writer (note the capitalization). No one ever becomes a Writer.
The vast majority of those who aspire to such a position fall by the wayside. Perhaps they publish a book or two and then disappear because they’ve run out of ideas. Perhaps life got in the way, as it is wont to do. Perhaps they just weren’t willing or able to bleed enough to perfect their craft. Despite what many think, writing ain’t for the faint of heart.
Then there are those who find a comfortable spot along the path and settle in there. Nothing wrong with that. You can find a lot of good stories from writers who have found their comfortable little niche. That their stories become like a troop of tired actors, moving from town to town, shifting roles, changing names but reciting the same old lines over and over ad nauseam is the sad by-product of staying in the same place too long.
Then there are the ones, a rare bunch I might add, who are in a constant state of closing the gap between being a writer and being a Writer. They know this gap will never completely close. There is no such thing as perfection. They’ve learned to live with that and continue to seek the goal anyway. They are constantly learning, constantly improving, constantly pushing whatever envelope they find before them. Their genre doesn’t matter; romance, thriller, literary, what have you. They may well not stick to any particular one, in fact. They strive to be the best at whatever genre they choose to write in yet being the best is never quite enough for them. With each new story, they seek the fresh word, the fresh image, the fresh idea, they gamble, they take risks and yes, they fail from time to time but that failure never becomes a liability, but rather an asset from which they can further close that gap.
While being a Writer means never ceasing to close the gap, it also means never forgetting where you came from and never looking down on those who are nipping at your heels. I forgot that for a moment and I apologize.