Friday, June 24, 2016

What Is It Like Being A Writer?

While reading Memoirs by Tennessee Williams, I came across this passage:

What is it like being a writer? I would say it is like being free. 

I know that some writers aren’t free, they are professionally employed, which is quite a different thing.

Professionally, they are probably better writers in the conventional sense of “better.” They have an ear to the ground of bestseller demands: they please their publishers and presumably their public as well.

But they are not free and so they are not what I regard a true writer as being.

To be free is to have achieved your life.

It means any number of freedoms.

It means the freedom to stop when you please, to go where and when you please, it means to be a voyager here and there, one who flees many hotels, sad or happy, without obstruction and without much regret. 

It means the freedom of being. And someone has wisely observed, if you can’t be yourself, what’s the point of being anything at all?

I think there is much more to being a writer than what Mr. Williams pens here (at least a good writer), but if this is a valid definition of a writer, then I am, unquestionably, a writer. I fit this description perfectly. I am a voyager loose upon the world, who travels four to six months each year, loving each place I stay and having no regrets when I depart for the next destination. And I craft my stories in my voice the way I damn well want, giving little thought to publishers or audience. If nothing else, I have achieved that freedom in my life, and I wouldn’t give it up for a NY Times bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize, or an Oscar.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Relating to Others Compassionately

When meeting people for the first time, I try to approach them from a standpoint of the most basic things we have in common. We each have a physical structure, a mind, and emotions. We are all born the same way, and we all die. All of us strive for happiness and try to avoid suffering. We all want respect, and to be treated fairly. We are all driven by the environments we live in, and we all strive for a better future.

Seeing others from this standpoint rather than emphasizing secondary differences such as race, sex, nationality, religion, political viewpoints, or financial status helps me to feel that I’m meeting someone who’s the same as me, no better and no worse. I like to think that all humans have 98% in common, and only 2% differences. I find that relating to others on this level makes it easier to communicate with them compassionately, and respect their place in the world.