“Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.”
― Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Well shit. That guy just said it all. It’s real. It’s funny. It’s alarming. Gross. And it peers into the human condition, like frost on a window, watching everything going on inside, without giving a rat’s ass who sees him.
Is it true that the moment we think we’re clever, that we’re fools?
Seems like it should be that way… Self-praise can’t be healthy. I mean, it’s one thing to know you have a way with something, like woodworking – to be confident about how to build a good dovetailed drawer that won’t fall apart, and you won’t saw off your finger in the process – but to smirk to yourself believing your drawer is the most beautiful and fetching drawer? No, that can’t be good. Or can it?
I liked my little metaphor about the frost. I think I’m clever… afterall, frost is there, in plain sight(!), spying on our every movement. And he doesn’t try to hide. In fact, he’s even so cheeky as to make efforts to return the moment we scrape him off. Frost is unapologetic. And for that, I love him.
When I read Mr. Miller’s quote about writers I snorted a little because, you see, I have a habit of staying in pyjamas—a robe, actually—for much longer than is reasonable, and I too experience fits of jealous rage at published authors together with the guilty conscience, all of which must—according to Mr. Miller—add up to the conclusion that I am a real writer. Yes, a true, full-on writer. And I wasn’t even trying… staying in my pyjamas well beyond an acceptable time just comes so naturally to me. Yes, I declare this conclusive evidence that I am indeed a writer.
Don’s quote is handy, especially today.
I suppose it’s on days like today when I’m not sure who I am that I will look for some scrap of evidence pointing in some damn direction… a clue, any clue will do, to prove I am somehow on-track with what Life wants from me. Heaven knows She drops hints like shed hairs off a golden labrador. Those damn hairs get everywhere, but even as one sweeps and vacuums them up, one can’t be certain about the creature from whence they originated. Think about it.
If you have never seen a dog, let alone a golden Labrador, how would you know what all those loose hairs were about? What’s the bigger picture? What are these hairs telling me? No, it’s not until we see that damn dog shaking on the Persian carpet with blonde hairs flying 360 degrees that we know for certain where those hairs came from.
So how am I supposed to surmise what the Universe wants from me, what Life wants from me, if all is see is random hairy clues and I don’t get to see the whole dog?
Or do we make that up ourselves? Do we create our own dog—our own Vision? And then the Universe drops hair clues, like breadcrumbs on how to get there? Are we meant to follow a hairy breadcrumb trail to a grand Vision that we ourselves conjured up?
Oh whatever, this seems like a convoluted metaphor now…it’s getting embarrassing…. but you get the idea, I hope. Sure, the words are not flowing and my prose is not exactly clean and honest as Hemingway would have me do. But it’s coming out and I ain’t stopping this train. Afterall, I am a writer.
And as a true writer, I find that I need to distract myself now with a snack. I shall.
Oh look, there’s a breadcrumb.
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Ernest Hemingway image via Listal.
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