What is it with us writers? We have such a hard time admitting to our vocation, our “calling” to write.
Several of my coaching clients struggle with this topic – and truthfully, sometimes, so do I. We are challenged to call ourselves writers because we haven’t won the Pulitzer or landed our books on the New York Times bestseller’s list. Can we truly be writers if we haven’t experienced such lofty goals?
Yet everyday, we put butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and invent stories. We create practical articles and send them to magazines. We reap from our souls the phrases that become poetry. And we wonder … are we really writers?
Recently, I’ve been reading “The Eternal Wonder” by Pearl S. Buck, a wonderfully-crafted novel about a genius boy who grows up with an intense sense of wonder. The first chapter includes the most beautiful expression of the birth process I’ve ever read.
In the forward section, Pearl’s son wrote that his mother struggled to admit she was a writer. Really? It was only after she won the Nobel Prize in 1938 for “The Good Earth” did she feel validated as a writer. She then became “serious” about penning her stories – completing 43 novels, 28 nonfiction books, 242 short stories, 37 children’s books, 18 scripts for film and television and 580 articles and essays. But only after she won the Nobel.
So what is it with us writers? Why do we have such a hard time admitting who we are?
Part of the reason may be that we observe19 year-old boys who sweat for one year, then become instant millionaires as a result of the one-and-done NBA draft. Yet we work for years before we sell that first article for two cents a word, just enough money to buy a Snickers ice cream bar.
Another reason may be that our culture defines success as graduate degrees and titles rather than the toil of trial and error. The successful person is the one who wins on American Idol, not the one who attempts the audition, fails and drives home alone.
A third reason might be that many writers are wired with melancholy – the common temperament for artists. We feel insecure because we are insecure. We struggle with our calling because we live in our introverted worlds and nobody tells us how wonderful we are for making the attempt, for trying to write, for sending out that blasted article one more time.
The only solution is to keep writing, to hand out our business cards and carry our laptops into Starbucks – to dare the world to ask us what we do so that we can stand up straight and answer with confidence, “I’m a writer.” So there !
©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo