Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Defining A Writer’s Role
During the Jewish New Year services at my local reform temple, the rabbi gave a sermon about how we each wear many hats – parent, child, sibling, job, geography, sports fan, hobby, etc., and how each of us must confront unwelcome change, when something alters or removes one of those self-identifying hats. For him, it was coming to grips with the fact that injuries had left him unable to vigorously pursue his passion for running. Just a few weeks shy of 40, but after some 25-30 years of running 50-70 miles every week, he was no longer that person that he had been. What identity would he now have and how will he accept it?
It made me wonder about my own identity. I consider myself a writer, above all else. Truthfully, I spend most of my time as a book marketer, father, husband, Mets fan, and many other things, but writing is what holds all of me together. Writing this blog grounds me. To write is to create, it’s to inspire, and it’s to imagine what isn’t but to seek to make it so.
When I was in high school I thought I’d become a sports writer, but I guess I didn’t really entertain what that meant – being on the road 40% of the time, working weekends and late nights, writing about teams and sports I didn’t care about, and taking home a light paycheck. I never realized the dream of being a sports writer and I’m okay with that but I still feel like I haven’t produced what I’m destined to write.
I want to write books that change the world and help people see life differently. Many writers may share such a goal and so many, with their poetry, essays, fiction, and non-fiction influence countless lives. Writers are both ego-centric in that they – we – want to be heard – but they, we – are also seeking to serve others and to help bring about a more informed, enlightened, and spirited society.
Writers know, at an early age, that they want to write. They know they have the ability to raise questions, share ideas, bring fresh perspectives, tell stories, and lobby for a certain vantage point. They love words and they see writing as their comfort zone and their playground. They could be talkers, too, but most writers observe silently from the sidelines, using their imagination to compensate for reality unfulfilled. They see potential where others don’t even look. They see beautify where others see ugliness. They see what could be when others only see what is.
Writers are not a homogenous group. Some writers express dangerous, ignorant, and unsubstantiated ideas and claims, and they use the written word for evil. They bastardize what writing should be all about. Just because one is a writer doesn’t mean he or he is a good person. Some can be quite dangerous with the garbage they clack out of a keyboard.
But most writers tend to fall into a similar category – well-intentioned, intelligent, emotionally-aware, good-hearted, and focused people. They apply their skill with a passion and intensity that grips them like a rabid fever. Writing is like having sex for the brain. There’s a buildup that needs to be released, an orgasm of brain cells that must combust and surge forward so that the writer can feel he or she has given it their all.
If you identify as a writer, ask yourself:
1. What else am I?
2. As a writer, am I improving, growing, and learning?
3. Do I write as often as I’d like to? Can I make more time for my passion?
However you answer these questions, enjoy the identity you have claimed for yourself. You don’t know for how long or at what level you’ll be a writer. Write as if your life depended on it. Because it does.
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