I’ve wanted to talk to you about writing because so many of you have asked me about it, and I understand your curiosity, I do. But I want to assure you right here and right now that there just is no magic wand that will make you a writer, only years of writing will do that if you are lucky and even then it may not be enough to set you apart, to have you be called something like original at it and not be boring. That’s always the real and present danger. Just because you know how to write doesn’t mean you can. To paraphrase Baudelaire, “Don’t confuse ink with virtue.” It’s hard stuff. Everyone would be a writer if they could. You could name things and watch them grow real right before your very eyes. But once you name them they also become your responsibility. They are attached to you like children. And like all good parents you must eventually give them up to the universe at large and let them go on, to live and die on their own blundering terms. And if you think this doesn’t hurt, you are very much mistaken. You have loved them and now someone else will love them or hate them without so much as your leave. But if you’ve done it right, it will be alright because your writing will have a completely beautiful life out there of its own accord. An arc like a rainbow. A tale like a shooting star. A smell like a waterfall. And that’s just the beginning.
Look I get why people talk and act like this (meaning the above paragraphs), they don’t want you to be sorely disappointed, but the truth is, you have every right to pursue the big dreams, the impossible dreams. Nobody thinks you can do it. You must prove them wrong. Writing is a means of expression and there are those who want to control it. I say we mustn’t let them. Ever. They’re free to like what they like and give awards to what they like, but so are we. They don’t own writing and I don’t want you to think that they do. The bullies and snobs of writing, of the art of communicating whichever way you choose, whatever medium are just as alive today as they ever were in Paris. They would prefer you to leave writing alone. It’s way too complicated for the likes of you. It’s too much of a risk to your fragile ego. You’ll only be disappointed and wretched in the end. Well I say phooey to all that doom and gloom. Welcome to writing. Take your seat. Crank it out. You damn well do know what attracts you about it. And if it’s not what attracts the next person, so what? You are allowed by virtue of being human to be who you are. Your feelings are just as real, just as important, and just as full of potential as anyone else’s on this earth.