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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's OK to be a writer. For a job.

Yep. It's more than OK. It's nice to have others read my writing as a sort of validation of how I invest my time, but I guess I'd keep writing even if no one else were reading my work. Happily, people do.

Why do many artistic folks feel a need to justify their chosen work? I, for one, didn't inherit this attitude from my parents, who were artists themselves. Yet, over the years I've guiltily hidden my stories and poems the same way I've hidden candy-bar wrappers and empty See's Victoria Toffee boxes.

Ironically, sometimes it's more "OK" in my mind to edit and proofread--and promote--other people's writing than it is to work on mine. Isn't that weird? What if chefs felt this way about the dishes they create? Or shepherds about their sheep? Or firefighters about the fires they battle? ("No, it's OK. I'll just leave this house to burn for now and come help you with that one.")

When I was a kid, I wrote for the pure joy and release of it. Then, as I entered adulthood, the whole money thing got entangled with the production of writing in my mind. It began to seem that without a concrete something being received in exchange for a story or poem or essay I'd produced, I wasn't really working. I was . . . playing.

I'd like to think more like the second worker in the following story: A visitor to the construction site of one of Europe's great cathedrals in the Middle Ages asked a stone cutter what he was doing. The stonemason replied, "I'm making a brick." The visitor asked another stonemason the same question. That stonemason answered, "I'm making a cathedral."

:-) :-) :-)

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