The Writing Life
A writer lives in a sort of half-world, a place where reality is far and distant and often perceived as if through a gauze curtain. It is a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place indeed. Yet, as a lifestyle it has real drawbacks.
When you're a writer, there are never enough hours in the day, or enough years in a lifetime. Everything begs, almost screams to be written about, while you hurry and scurry about your mundane business, begrudging every moment spent away from your trusty word processor. Reality becomes a flickering screen, overlain with distant impressions of trees and hills and friends and family.
When you're a writer, you spent hours walking around in a fog, muttering aloud to yourself to get the dialogue just right. People look at you strangely, and walk away when you approach. But it doesn't matter; most of you doesn't even notice.
When you're a writer, you plant seeds and ideas as you pass through life, seeds and ideas that may bloom and blossom in times and places far, far away from any you may be privileged to know yourself. Your concepts live on, even when you do not, and the ghosts of your thoughts persist as long as does the media upon which your thoughts are preserved. I have a book written by an obscure Tasmanian sailing-ship crewman; it is almost a century old, and may very well be the last copy of the work extant. Yet, the author's thoughts are as alive in my mind as if he were sitting here next to me.
When you're a writer, the universe is your canvas. No other art-form allows such outrageous freedom of expression; anything that can be thought can be expressed in words, and a truly gifted writer can even convey much that goes beyond thought. What other media can take its devotees half as far?
When you're a writer, you're free to create whenever and wherever you choose. I've written books and stories in restaurants, hotel rooms, and even on the assembly line. You don't need paints or chisel or camera to be a writer, just paper and pencil. Indeed, if you're gifted with a good memory, you can even write stories in your head with no tools at all, then type out the results later. What freedom!
When you're a writer, you have starfire in your soul. When the writing is good and words are coming fast and true, it's like being a not-so-minor god. Your characters all dance in tune, your symbol-sets all converge into one beautiful statement, and the sum of the whole far outshines the many mundane parts. It's like gazing upon the features of Beauty herself, or staring unflinching into the eyes of Truth. I've never tried taking heroin, but then again I don't need to. I've written, you see, and felt my words and ideas grow into something wonderful and fulfilling and far far transcendant of mere reality. No mundane chemical drug could possibly ever even begin to touch the experience. Never! Not by half!
When you're a writer, through some strange magic people begin to take you seriously in a way they otherwise never would. You become, in the eyes of your readers, an automatic expert on whatever subjects you choose to tackle. Through some mysterious process, you grow in intellectual stature even if you do not in any other regard deserve it. This is true as much for the writer of fiction as for the writer of fact. For this reason, you owe it to both the reader and to yourself to be damned careful with what you write, and to use your power of word-crafting responsibly. A good writer's words are both persistent and powerful. Once issued from the keyboard, they are very difficult indeed to call back.
When you're a writer, in short, life is good!