As soon as I wrote this title I realized It may have been the dumbest thing I've ever written.
Who knows what it takes to be a writer? Certainly not me. I sit here every day and struggle to connect words together, sometimes I feel like a writer because I'm failing.
Sometimes I feel like a writer because I feel like a failure.
I stumbled upon this lecture, given by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite Beat Generation writers. You know, the guys that rolled with Kesey and Thompson. The good guys.
Vonnegut discusses the horrors of being a writer, and how hopelessly paranoid you have to be to indulge this kind of profession. It shocked me, because shortly before coming across this little video, I wrote this: probably one of the most paranoid thing I've ever written.
"I’ve heard that a writer is lucky because he cures himself every day with his work. What everybody is well advised to do is to not write about your own life — this is, if you want to write fast. You will be writing about your own life anyway — but you won’t know it.
And, the thing is, in order to sit alone and work alone all day long, you must be a terrible over-reacter. You’re sitting there doing what paranoids do — putting together clues, making them add up… Putting the fact that they put me in room 471… What does that mean and everything?
Well, nothing means anything — except the artist makes his living by pretending, by putting it in a meaningful hole, though no such holes exist. Writers are in the process of becoming...humanity becoming."
The idea that a writer is an exhausted, paranoid, unpleasant person is not a new trope. Look at all the writers who have killed themselves. Plath, Kerouac, Hemingway, Orwell, Thompson.
They're living the ugliest moments of their, and others' lives every single day. Constantly rehashing the darkness and slashing through events, word by word, piece by piece is exhausting, not to mention reckless. It takes a lot of time and energy to flip the lens back on yourself, and examine what is happening. For me, writing is an attempt to prepare everyone for utter doom. To expose the truth.
Whenever I put pen to paper, I think about these guys. The heroes, you know, the best there ever were. In my opinion Hemingway and Fitzgerald are tied for first place. Both of them were miserable. Silvia Plath? Miserable. Thompson...completely insane, and not to mention, paranoid and miserable.
Looking into the void with each pen stroke, each letter typed, we persevere. Becoming a writer isn't about the skill or the mechanics. It's about the reason. Why are you writing? What do you want to expose? And what can others learn.