Creative people, when you were young did you imagine yourself being “discovered” at some point? Be honest. When you were a child singing slightly off-key in your room, wasn’t there some part of you that was sure that somehow in your dinky Midwestern town, as you were one day following your mother back out to the car with a cart full of groceries, singing quietly to yourself, that a random Nashville bigwig would overhear your angelic voice and sign you on the spot?
No? That was just me then?
Surely when the pencil drawing you made in seventh grade art class was selected to go on some foam board display in the hallway you imagined that during the next parent/teacher conferences a famous art critic would wander past the cafeteria and stumble upon your flawless execution of a winged horse, track you down in a mad rush of inquiry, and whisk you away to some fine art institution in New York where you would blossom into the absolute toast of the cutting edge art scene.
Am I getting closer?
How about this. Despite the keen awareness in college that you were perhaps not quite as remarkable as you were lead to believe in your small hometown, that you were surrounded by many talented people and could even enjoy being part of this community of young visionaries, there was still a place in your psyche that was reserved for illusions of grandeur, that believed that your creative writing teacher would read your complex and sophisticated short story about losing your best friend and immediately pass it on (with gracious apologies to you for not asking first) to her friend at The New Yorker and you would assume your natural and rightful position as the brightest young literary star to come from your town in…ever.
Admit it. That was you. Some small part of you, anyway.
If it was not you, it was certainly me at various times of my young life. Even in my twenties I felt sure (well, perhaps not quite as sure as I had been in my teens) that the promise that teachers and parents saw in me would simply materialize into worldly success on a grand scale with little effort on my part (and that it would be nothing less than I deserved).
Considering this, you may think turning thirty a few years ago would have sent me into a shame spiral at having not accomplished artistic feats that would last through the ages and get me interviewed on NPR. Actually it felt really, really good. Rather than be despondent that I would never be considered a young prodigy admired the world over for my natural talent and easy charisma, I felt a lightening of spirit as the pressure to live up to the expectations I had placed upon myself was lifted from my shoulders. It was not until the silly desire for admiration was gone that I began to write anything worth reading.
Why do I write today? To exercise my gifts, to enjoy the process of creation, and to share in the exchange of ideas that is one of the many things that distinguishes us from the rest of creation. I love to read and I think when you love to partake in an activity you naturally want to contribute. My experiment of writing and publishing a short story each month of this year is part of a determined effort to contribute.
Why do you write?