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?


BarBarA said...

you are a writer
you are a writer
you are a writer

yes, you think to much, but that comes along with the territory! No way around it, my friend!!

Awareness said...

Are you reading my mind?? Since posting my 1 year anniversary blogpost today, I have been perseverating on the idea that possibly I could call myself a writer. I reviewed the type of writing I have done in the past (copy, plays, marketing brochures, proposals, essays, absurdist musings....)........I came to the conclusion that I'm a writer AND a pretty good one.

Your post has made me laugh! If you are wondering if you're thinking too much my professional writer friend.........? Guess what? You are! Good to know that deep perseverating thinkers think alike!!!

Lacey said...

Michael, you're human and we all have doubts sometimes. Or want praise while rejecting it. Pride is a sin and a blessing all at once. You're a good writer; I like your stuff. You're a good person, also, which comes across in your writing. You try.

I don't have a whole lot of useful things to say, so I'll defer and give this space to Wendy Cope (as made famous by Kurt Elling, jazz singer):

I am a poet.
I am very fond of bananas.

I am bananas.
I am very fond of a poet.

I am a poet of bananas.
I am very fond.

A fond poet of ‘I am, I am’-
Very bananas.

Fond of ‘Am I bananas?
Am I?’-a very poet.

Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?

Poet bananas! I am.
I am fond of a ‘very.’

I am of very fond bananas.
Am I a poet?

Snaggle Tooth said...

Thinking on paper too much? -Nah!
Analytical is good. Humility keeps the head grounded.
I never believe I'm not a writer- for me it beats speaking.