I began trying to earn my keep as a writer about nine months ago. Sure, sometimes it’s a many-splendored thing; but there are also the half-finished manifestos, the botched verbal symphonies, the sleepless nights staring at a computer, more insomniac chump than celebrated scribe. On nights like these, I ask myself the question that hovers in the dark spaces of every author’s mind: “Am I any good at all?”
The jitters really come when I have to keep stringing parts of speech together in the midst of what Holly Golightly calls “the mean reds.” Facing my fears as a writer involves churning out word inventions from a laptop stuffed with proof of my verbal bungles, from the so-so composition to the rejection letter. You gotta love our snazzy, technological times where we find out so much faster how truly mediocre we are.
What makes me go on? Well, there are the victories, those glowing points in my career where a novel or poetry collection is completed, or an article gets accepted in a publication whose pieces I've been poring over for years. The knowledge that I have made something I would want to read should never be underestimated. These celebratory intervals are the invisible carrot that is held out in front of the struggling wordsmith, urging me onward.
Strange as it may sound, it’s not merely success, or even determination, dedication, and discipline (although I suppose that all of these play a part in it) that keep me going. It’s that there are certain things that would explode me if I didn’t express them.
These detonators are everywhere — in the unreal appearance of the water that falls from my shower every morning; in the ugly beauty of ballerina feet; in the way the headlights on night cars look like fairy things if I squint my eyes just right.
My reactions to these visions make me feel almost skinless, as though there’s nothing between the world and me. I have to do something with this sensation or I’ll burst, so I write about it. After awhile, I realized that since I had to do this, I might as well try to make a buck or two along the way — and that’s exactly how much I’ve gotten. Just joshing with you; I’ve made three.