Monday, January 21, 2013


You talk about your false teeth, but you never mention the brain damage that occurred when you were accidentally whammed with that softball bat. I stipulate that you were merely doing the girls’ team a favor by running for an injured hitter. But it also cost the school good money to remove your teeth from the Louisville Slugger. Before your injury, you were fluent in several languages if you count pig-Latin and barking.  Afterward, you could barely decipher English. Be that as it may, I was talking/thinking about your comments on advice to writers.

The good news? We are all inescapably creative and make hundreds of creative decisions every day based on our experience and personality style and education. The issue is not whether we’re creative enough. Better we should ask ourselves do I love to read? When I run across something terrific, do I whoop and twirl? Do I have to read the marvelous passage aloud to the nearest person, even if it’s a weary man patiently waiting in line for his prescription to be filled?
And do I love words themselves? Playing with them, arranging them into images, stacking and shuffling them into sentences? Do I feel a strange pleasure when I write, like the activity itself is not only enjoyable but important?
Do I love movies and wish I had written every one that absorbs me?
Do I see re-writing as fun and can hardly turn loose of a piece that I’m working on?

If we answer yes to these questions, then we’re designed to be a writer. We have the passion it requires. So will we make the effort it takes to get good at writing? Figure ten thousand hours practice. Figure finding other writers we respect and paying attention to their comments on our work. Figure driving our mates quite mad with rereading incessant paragraphs. Figure learning how to tell the stories that reside inside us without making them autobiographical. Figure honoring our writing by persistently sending it places where it might receive an unbiased read. Figure weathering the many days when we decide to go into the refrigeration repair business instead.

Which reminds me, perhaps we missed our true calling. You would have made a wonderful harbor buoy, bobbing and weaving in the waves and clanging relentlessly. I myself, larger and less buoyant, would have made an excellent doorstop.

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