If that be the sole definition of a writer, then I’m very much a writer.
Recently, I think posts of mine concerning my writing and/or my writing life have frightened some of my readers. My father, in particular, who saw a thread of despair in my discussions of my own work, was worried about me. Other people have told me that I need not take it so seriously, that if I laughed about it, the creative process would be easier. Still others cheer me on, telling me not to give up! I appreciate all such responses. But…
Writing for me is wrestling with doubt. I’m not James Patterson, a man whom I would suspect spends very little time doubting when he sits down to write. There are dozens of popular writers that seem happy with their craft and with their work, but my path is and has been different. I wish I could be one of those writers–or even a writer that cranks out popular books that people actually want to read–but I cannot. That’s just the perils of my own artistic life.
In the summer of 2013, I wrote daily with a sense of wonder on a novel. I’ve written many stories and a handful of unpublished novels, but writing that novel was really the first time that I could say about the experience–“it was joyful.” That doesn’t mean that my other writing experiences were diminished, but the satisfactions of my writing life are balanced by a healthy dose of struggle. Henry James once wrote, “We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
If I have a modicum of success in my writing life, it is because of my doubt. I write to banish the doubt, even if only for a moment. Through this back and forth, I find my path.