I understand that writers and artists tend to view the world a little differently than other people.* It’s part of being a creative person. I don’t understand how that difference results in being placed upon a pedestal. Writers are not a different caliber of human being. If they’re pricked, they bleed. If they’re tickled (and they’re ticklish), they laugh. If they’re poisoned, they die, and if they’re wronged, they may take revenge (Another reason to be careful when in a relationship with a writer. Break her heart, and she’s likely to murder the offending person in a poem or story.).¹
Somehow, though, writers still are placed upon pedestals. I’ve seen it happen when I tell a person I’m a writer. The person’s eyes widen, and he or she replies, “Oh, that’s wonderful. I wish I could write.”
“I wish I could write.” I hate the phrase. Everybody can write. They may not be the next Dickens or Chaucer, but they can write. They can become better writers. To say “I wish I could write” is an excuse. It would be like me saying I wish I could play basketball then refusing to play because I’m no Kobe Bryant. I will never be a good basketball player – I know; I’ve tried – but I can become a better one. My lack of talent is not an excuse.
Neither is my talent. I have an aptitude for writing, but it doesn’t mean I get to be a lazy writer. I have to work just as hard as the person who doesn’t think he or she is a writer. If I don’t work on my writing, I backslide. I lose the gains I’ve made. I have to start again, and it’s hard and becomes progressively harder the longer I refrain from writing.
My aptitude doesn’t save me from duds, either. I write plenty of failed blog posts and poems, and I’m sure that Bryant has days where he misses more free throws than he makes. Those failures mustn’t keep me from writing, and they mustn’t keep Bryant from the court. We have to do the work that is required of us. We have to stay away from the pedestals, both the ones we create for ourselves as well as the ones thrust upon us.
*Originally published February 3, 2012
¹From William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice