“The quality which makes a man want to write and be read is essentially a desire for self exposure – like one of those guys who has a compulsion to take his thing out and show it on the street.”
– James Jones, Author
I like to keep my thing in my pants, where it can stay out of trouble, but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with Mr Jones and the flashing tendencies of writers.
Writers are funny creatures who thrive on dichotomy. We’re often brooders and over-thinkers with the added disadvantage of huge, fragile egos.
We injure easily and fancy ourselves as a lone duck, yet we feel compelled to expose our vulnerability and risk inevitable rejection all for the possibility of admiration and the thrill that comes from seeing our words – our emotions – in print.
Being a writer makes no sense.
The financial rewards for novelists are slim. All writers are rejected at some point. None of them take this well, but still some part of us perseveres. Craving attention, so sure that our stories must be told.
Are we delusional? Narcissistic? Unstable?
It’s enough to make a budding novelist pack it in. I have a child to raise, a mortgage and travel habit to finance, relationships to maintain.
I don’t have time for an activity that sucks away the hours, has me living in a fantasy world and jeopardizes my sometimes tenuous grip on emotional stability.
Why do I persist?
Because I have no choice.
I write because I must. I write to keep the demons at bay. To give a voice to my fears and a home to the ugliness within. I write to channel my emotions and frustrations. To seek validation that I exist.
I know I’m not writing enough when I become depressed, argumentative, and generally too disagreeable to live with.
The upside is I am usually so depressed I cannot see I’ve stopped writing, so I don’t feel bad about it. The downside is inevitably MusicMan gets fed up with me being a basket case and challenges me to get back to my projects.
Usually this acts as a trigger, forcing me into a brief moment of clarity where I can see I’m spending far too much time thinking and brooding and not enough time transferring all those juicy emotions onto the page.
The trouble is, writing can make for an exhausting life – this ability to be transfixed with every emotion and behavioral defect of ourselves and others.
I often wish I didn’t feel so much and create so many other worlds in my head. I fantasize what it would be like to enjoy practical, grounding pursuits, like football or gardening.
I wish I could be a hardy, over-confident type – the kind of person who breezes through life, not noticing the hurdles waiting to trip them up. The kind of person who doesn’t see the people on the sidelines, hurling rocks at their head, or the changing shadows of relationships.
But then, would I still be a writer if it wasn’t for those incessant voices in my head?
Maybe I’d put all my years in copy writing to good use and be a successful internet marketer instead.
That’s not to say that all writers are neurotic, introspective hoarders of angst. No, I’m sure some are upbeat, uncomplicated souls who let life wash over them, never slowing them down.
I have never met a writer like this, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Maybe they just all hang out together, basking in their joviality, thumping proud chests and sharing stories of literary brilliance. Conspiring to keep the rest of us out of their confident circle.
Kind of like those successful internet marketers.
Flickr Photo by aindschie