I remember being in a high school English class and we were discussing the book we had read called Catch 22. The feeling I got was the writer had fun writing the book. He was experimenting, making up silly names, amusing himself above all else, letting ideas drop onto the page exposing his audacity to keep all the craziness in the book no matter how quirky and unusual it all sounded and seemed.
I remember the epiphany that writing could be fun, throwing ideas around randomly, and being playful and rebellious. It didn’t need to be a brain-torturing chore. It was the first inkling I had to be a writer. Maybe I could do that with my life, write stuff in whatever way I wanted.
The inkling intensified into a serious consideration in college until I got a D in Freshman English Composition. I was hurt, embarrassed, and worried. How could I become a writer if my writing was terrible?
Being competitive and paranoid, I became more interested in writing after that because I was worried if I didn’t become better at it I would be in big trouble in my professional life. Plus I wanted to show that professor I wouldn’t take that D and go back to my little corner of the world and accept her judgment that my writing sucked. She ripped my heart out and I was determined to put it back in.
So I kept thinking about becoming a writer, majored in English, read books by good writers, and after college still couldn’t shake this writing desire even though many people cautioned me this path could be risky and hard to pull off and one big disappointment after another – all of which turned out to be true.
And what about the money? How would I feed myself? Did I really want to fight for grocery money for the rest of my life?
I remember thinking there was nothing else I wanted to do more. I tried working in the mortgage and bank loan businesses and wasn’t interested plus I couldn’t understand the concepts. Balloon loans – what? I would go to work early and write before the work days started.
All these years later – 40 to be precise – here I am still writing whether it’s good or bad or whether anyone reads it or doesn’t. None of that matters. What matters is this is what I wanted to do so I did it and the results and repercussions have been what they have been and it doesn’t really matter because when I wake up in the morning my first thought is to write and when I go to bed my last thought is to write. A smart way to live life albeit daring.
I am thinking about all while reading a book about writing called Writing Alone and With Others By Pat Schneider. She comforted me that writing for the sake of writing and for no other reason, including becoming rich and famous, is a worthy endeavor.
“You don’t have to make money at your writing to be a writer. Writers are artists. Although some writers make their living at their writing, most of us do not. If I am an artist, the commercial world cannot be the judge of my work.”
I find this liberating. You don’t become a writer to become rich. You write because you want to. It’s not really something in your control. Writing decides for you what to do each day, and that is writing. It’s a supernatural force.
“You are a writer,” the author writes. “You are an artist. Do not burden your art with the necessity of having it make your living for you. Don’t judge the artistic merit of your work by the fickle necessities of the marketplace or the critical style of the academy. Find your own path. Trust your own way.”
You are witnessing now a writer finding his own path, being rid of what anyone may think of this or if they read it. You may read it. You may not. My guess is not. That’s beyond me. You do what you do; I do what I do. Writers write and will continue to and many of them including me may not know whether anyone reads it. It doesn’t matter.
What comes of these words will always be a thing outside my grasp so why concern myself with it? If I don’t understand global warming, which I don’t, why would I share an opinion on it? It’s of no worth. Shakey analogy but I don’t care.
People like certain things and others don’t. They spend their time how they spend their time. It’s as it should be. Writing this right now is as it should be, for me.
“Forget your generalized audience,” the author writes. “In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death, and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist.”
Who are you? Who am I? The audience is me, my mind, and what I want to type right now regardless of anyone else. You are whoever you are. Just go, I’m thinking until I don’t feel like going anymore. Write this down. For no reason if that’s how I see it, or for posterity, or so people might remember me or not. Will this be what someone reads at my funeral? Will I hear them read it? Doesn’t matter.
Write. You may get better. You may not. None of that matters. Effort and repetition are all. Break through what scares you and be honest.
I like this. I love this. Lay bare.
“If there is a secret hidden behind a door, then that door is the only one we want to open. All other doors feel boring, impossible, and blocked. All our creative energy goes into keeping the door closed on the story that we refuse to tell. Let go of control and write intuitively. Let craft obey instinct, not the other way around.”
My instincts tell me this is exactly what I want to write right now because it feels appropriate. It’s what’s on my mind. My door is opening wide to the deepest thoughts I have right now, one of which is that before I die I want to write as much as I can.
Not sure why.
But I suspect it may have something to do with it feeling good mentally.