Friday, September 29, 2006

Still Crazy After All These Years

I am a writer.
I… am a writer.
I am… a writer.
I’m a writer.

It still feels odd to say. I’m not sure I believe it sometimes. Then I start going into this “I’m not worthy” self-deprecating dialogue, usually internally, and then I start to second-guess even that. I feel like I’m singing the “poor me, nobody understands” song while questioning my motives for doing so. Am I seeking validation or am I sorting through something that touches others as well? Does it really need to be said?

Am I profound… or just pathetic?

Perhaps I just think way too much. That’s a fair characterization. Since this is the case, let us further dissect the premise. Come along, the rabbit hole is right over here…

First, some facts: For whatever reason, I find it difficult to attribute credit to myself, but only under some rather inconsistent circumstances. Don’t know why, I just do. It would probably take years of therapy and untold thousands of dollars to find out – I’ll pass. The fact is that I am a writer. There is abundant evidence. In fact, it’s not hard to be a writer – most everyone is at some time or another. If you write, you’re a writer – by definition.

Ok, ok, I know that is a rather broad interpretation and in most contexts it is not a sufficient one. We’re talking about a more concrete identification. Many would say that to be called a writer, it must be a much larger part of who we are than just jotting down a memo or a letter to a friend. It probably should occupy a significant amount of time on a daily, or at least semi-regular basis. For me, it does. I write often, I write daily and I write a lot.

Maybe to be a writer, one must have a writing career. Journalists, playwrights, novelists, and technical writers are but a very few examples of professional writers. Careers are jobs and jobs are paid. A professional writer is compensated for his or her written work. Done and done. I have been drawing a regular paycheck for putting words and punctuation in a specific order that someone is willing to pay for. Oddly enough, I find it marginally easier to say I am a professional writer. Don’t ask – I don’t know why.

Here’s the tricky part. I am a good writer. I don’t even like seeing that in front of me, but the empirical evidence is there. I receive high grades on my written work. Since entering Sac State, I have yet to receive anything lower than an A- on any prepared written work (on in-class writing like essay tests, I have only slightly lower marks). I get paid to write and I have won cash awards for my writing. I continually receive positive feedback – some from sources I greatly respect and are not known for giving false praise. Despite all that, I resist accepting it.

So what am I after? Is it validation and reassurance that I am indeed talented? Perhaps the desired result is one of sympathy or empathy. It can be very confusing when the manipulator and the manipulated are one and the same. I don’t know if these reflective, motive-checking moments are mine alone to endure, or if it is universally human. I’m not looking for validation, but I quite obviously am. I’m not seeking approval, but it’s approval that I desire. I don’t want praise, but can I ever get enough?

I try to finish everything I start, literarily anyway. I used to write the majority of my stuff in a single sitting. Sometimes it would take hours, sometimes minutes but I don’t like letting it go until it’s perfect. It never is and I always know it won’t be – it can’t be. The point is that the nature of the “professional” writing I do demands me to be far more flexible – sometimes writing even when I am not necessarily “inspired.” As a result, my collection of unfinished work is growing. It is becoming quite a load to carry.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense. The point of it all? None. Don’t have one. I’m just thinking aloud; enjoying a little excursion to the lunatic fringe.

So… do you think I think too much?