A Rattled Comfort Zone

I read the following quote in the fic section of an MJ board I’m enamored with.

“A writer is someone who has written today. Not someone who writes for money. Not someone who writes for publication or fame. Not someone who talks about writing, or reads about writing, or thinks about writing or attends writers’ conferences. Not someone who has written in the past or will write in the future. A writer is someone who has written TODAY.” -Paul Raymond Martin

When I first read it, I reacted rather viscerally without even realizing it. I was put off. Who are you, sir, to arbitrarily assign writer or non-writer status? What does any writer have to prove to you?

Have I written? For most of my life. Do I write? When I’m not thinking about it, sure. Would I like to be published? Of course! What’s the point in communicating if the signal gets nowhere? Will I accomplish my goals? You’d better believe it. No one can take that desire from me or invalidate it with a pretentious, presumptuous speech echoing down from some self-built pedestal.

I scrolled down and almost forgot about the whole thing.

But, almost to my own surprise, I could feel the pang of my initial hurt settling inside me, like fog nestled in a valley, lingering before dissipating.

I had not written yesterday.

I silenced the voice in my head and admitted the truth regarding this quote– my truth. The fact is, those words would have rolled clean off my back if I didn’t feel as if they described me right down to the beauty mark on my face. Yeah, that’s right, I would have thought in support of the us-vs-the-rest-of-you-wannabes declaration. Surely this quote isn’t referring to me.

Ah, yes. Another of the universe’s well-timed taps on the cheek. “Hello again, stranger. Keep it focused now, eyes on the prize. You’re weaving to-and-fro like the needle on a Richter scale, kid. What’s with you these days, anyway? We’ve all got our hang ups, but wow. Wow.”

I saw my reflection in those words and the image that faced me made me wrinkle my nose. I’d gotten complacent in the dunk tank, and this quote was the baseball that knocked my behind plunk into the water. Back to reality. In the process of drying off, I realized, trembling inside, that sitting on that perch and talking the talk is not enough, not enough for me. Even talking the talk and occasionally stringing together the written words on a good day to boot is not enough.

“You want to call yourself a writer?” I asked myself. “Write. Write. Please, for the love of God, write.” Prove him wrong. Prove it all wrong. Prove every ounce of inadequacy you’ve ever felt wrong. Don’t like feeling like you’re on the wrong side of the line he drew in the sand? Do something about it. Damn it, do anything. For yourself.

November first can’t come soon enough.


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