Sunday, February 16, 2014

I’m Going To Be A Writer When I Grow Up

I wrote this awhile ago, but delayed posting it because I don't quite understand what I'm getting at here. I'm already a writer and already reasonably grown up, so the sort of provisional future I'm outlining here depends on something else. What that something might be is not entirely clear, but it certainly depends on me spending more time writing. Like long hours every day, which seems almost unimaginable. Maybe short hours, but consistently reliable ones. In any case, we're never done wrestling with ourselves about the things that we need to do more and do more diligently.

Still, there is line or two here that I'm happy to have written. I can't see the harm in sharing.

If I were to sit down and take a test designed to measure interests and skills and personal characteristics and vocational choice, I’m pretty sure it would peg me for a creative type and recommend writing or some other form of artistic expression as the right career path for me. And I do so want to be an “artist” that if I were at all worried that it wouldn’t produce the outcome that I desired, I would game it. I would manage my answers to the test in such a way that—assuming I am sufficiently cunning—the results would reflect my desire.

But the same test would not necessarily measure my ability to produce artistically, or to do it well. I might be, in reality, a square peg of sorts, forcing myself into a creatively round hole and discovering I have none of the true grease that it takes to revolve productively in that hole, or to slide in and out as my art might require.

I might be a lousy writer. Or a long-winded one. But, based on my own compulsively repetitive navel-gazing, I am persuaded of the sincerity of the tune that vibrates my heartstrings. I am lost in here and out there in my desire to produce something that moves others. I want to write. And sing. And dance. Sketch and stretch and paint and perform.

But wanting to do any of these is not the same as doing them well. Which is the real point. I want to produce something that moves others, but how will they be moved if the appeal is not moving, or, even, coherent?

I would dance, but not if you would laugh at me. I would sing, but I’ve tried that—and people told me to stop. I would draw, and might someday, when I move beyond remedial cave-painting.

Writing becomes almost the default choice. And I’ve done it. Quite a lot, really. Nothing like the millions of words that, say, Dickens or Faulkner or Morrison have written. But a million, maybe.

That’s a start.