It Takes Thick Skin to Be a Writer

As my writing on this site has gotten more prolific I am coming to terms with the concept of getting some perspective on the sort of commentary I get. While we all, those of us who write, love to be told how wonderful and brilliant and creative, and well worded and knowledgeable we are, (in my case, of course, all of those things being the epitome of truth) if we write anything of real merit, we also tend to enrage the wrath of people who hide behind screen names and fail to have the “sac” to do any real writing for themselves.

I find that for every “that a girl” I get a “Wow, you’re such a bitch. For every “Wow that was such an original piece”, I get a “Try something new you shameless fraud of a copycat”. I find that for every “Tiffany, you should run for Empress of the Planet”, I get a “Why don’t you just go kill yourself because you’re worthless.” For every “You write terrifically”, I get a “If I wrote like you, I’d BEG for my job back at Mc Donald’s.” For every positive there is at least one negative and the fact is that if we are ever going to write anything of any value, we are going to piss some people off.

We revere Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, because her viewpoint found favor with the country and the North won the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln accused her, good naturedly, of being “The little lady that started this great big war.” With his quill Jefferson inspired a nation, With her pen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning inspired the soul. With his typewriter Hemmingway inspired a greater understanding of the human spirit.

If you have ever listened to readers you have heard what a wonderful wordsmith is to be found in Stephen King, and yet others will label him a sellout and a hack. Some will Say Dan Brown is a Genius, others the lowest form of human excrement. Anne Rice, they say is a fabulous writer, and a horrible lyricist whose use of language confounds you with utter boredom discovered only in verbosity. If you write anything of merit, you will be lauded as a hero and paraded as a fool. If you write for the satisfaction of the masses, I have only this to say. THROW YOUR WRITING IMPLEMENTS IN THE RIVER AND NEVER WRITE ANOTHER WORD!

The fact is that those of us who write don’t always get it right. Sometimes we write in a heat of passion. Sometimes we regard ourselves as brilliant humorists, Sometimes we write naively, thinking ourselves more qualified on our subject matter than we are. Sometimes we deserve a good smack, and sometimes we know it. The fact is though, for those of us who write, we write because we must. It soothes the savage beast. While many of us find ourselves oft in a vile place of self-loathing where we fear that our muse shall never visit us again, where we are certain that we have lost our craft and run out of things to say, those of us who were born to write know that we have toâÂ?¦ we mustâÂ?¦ we cannot help ourselves but join the fray. Sometimes we say it poorly. Sometimes we speak as if with gilded tongues of angels. Nevertheless, we write because we must.

Hemingway described writing better than any author whose words I have ever read on the subject when, once upon a time, he said “Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and cut open all of your veins.” Those of us who have been there know just what he meant. Many is the time I have finished an emotional piece in tears, feeling as if I had not slept in weeks. My ghosts haunt me. Will they like it? Will they loathe it? If I tell the truth and it gets out, will it lead to my demise? Wars have started and ended as the result of the combination of words placed together by authors. There has scarce been a social movement that did not start with the written word.

We sometimes write with whimsy. We sometimes write with purpose, but we must, those of us who write always keep in mind that in order to do these things well we need but a few things, the passion to write, the heart of a poet, the mind of a philosopher, the soul of a theologian and the skin of a rhinoceros and the narcissism that exists when we first assume we have something to say. I enjoy the times of praise, but I am learning to enjoy equally the words of criticism from the vilest and most unqualified of pens. If I inspire a response, be it negative or positive, then I have proof that they are reading� and that my dear readers, my fellow sojourners in this craft called writing, is just one of the perks of self-discovery through writing.

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