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American Idol – The Writer

December 10, 2008

I grew up in a house full of love. So is that why I was terrible when I tried to write angry grunge songs and sound like Pearl Jam back when I was in high school and only wanted to be Eddie Vedder? I had the long hair and I dressed like the guys from the movie Singles but for some reason, I was missing something. Was it pain? I eventually became a passable drummer, but I was really only into playing funk and jazz and jamband rock (which pretty much has ties to all styles of music). You know, I just wanted to get the party-people grooving and having fun. Sure, a late-night drunken punk jam with egolts was always fun, but it wasn’t the real me. I never turned into that poetic rockstar that I had hoped to be when I was 17. And I used to think maybe it was because I always had loving parents, amazing siblings, a lot of friends and I never really needed anything more than what I had. I sometimes feel like because I was born into a family of love and have had a life full of more love and have never really known need, maybe I didn’t work as hard for the things that working hard is necessary to accomplish: I always had a place to fall back on, so there was no desperate push from within to make things happen.

 

I work in an office. I sit in a cubicle. I don’t own my own business and though I’ve dreamed many a dream about it, I don’t think it will ever happen. And I tell myself I am a writer. The truth of it is I am a writer – Part time. On my own. For myself. Never for money. Only when the mood strikes. I’m a binge-writer. And that’s not the I want it to be at all. I sometimes wonder if I were to lose my job, maybe that would be the necessary push to get me over the edge and finally give me a reason to fight for something and write more. Maybe without a job, but with my family to support, I’d be forced to figure out how to sell my book and get started on the next one.

 

But wait…what the hell is that?

 

I consider that line of thought and it’s pretty easy to see it is just another excuse to not go write and work on the book. There is nothing holding me back from working on my writing except me. Nothing. How could I not see how utterly lucky I am and go with that flow, fold up all that love surrounding me into my heart, and use it for the words and the stories and the characters. Why wait for more challenge? As if writing itself isn’t hard enough. Can I not see that without a job, I’d actually have LESS time to write? It’s not like some benefactor is sitting out there, watching me, just waiting for me to hand them my wonderful words for lots of money. No, it’s not because I was too well-loved or have always had a job and have never been homeless or abused. Those are meandering excuses, and those excuses are my biggest weakness as a writer. At least I know that much. And today, when hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs and homes and families, how could I possibly even wonder if losing my job could be a good thing for my writing? It could put us on the streets, it won’t put my words on the bookshelf.

 

In all honesty, I love my job and the work that I do. It comes to me naturally and I surely don’t want to lose this gig. So what is it that will finally make this guy chose to sit down every day to work more on the novel, work on the craft, work on writing – word by precious word,  as well as keep doing the work I do to earn a living? Will it be a simple word of advise? Will it be the inspiration of an amazing book (or even a terrible one)? Will it be some other writer’s brilliant blog? Will it be the lyric or the music of a song? Will it be my family? Or will it simply be me, one day, perhaps today, making a hard commitment to the craft and treating it with the respect that it is due? With writers like Kerouac and Thompson and London and Irving and Duncan and countless others who’ve touched my life with their hard-fought, studied, and practiced words surrounding me, how dare I attempt to slip anonymously into their worlds and call myself a writer on 1,000 words a month? That’s not how it works and I’m surely not looking for American Idol – The Writer.

 

Either I am strong enough to be a writer or I am not. Either I make the time to write or I let another day go by without even trying.

 

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