I, the Unknown yet Driven Writer

Me, pretentiously trying to look the part of the quintessential writer

I knew from the earliest moments of my child-hood that I wanted to be a writer. I knew this with an absolute certainty. It was the only vocation that, when I imagined myself as such, gave me a feeling of peace, even as a young boy. Whether or not I’m any good at writing is, I suppose, a matter for the reader to decide—but good or bad… this is what I was born to do. I understood from a young age that in order to be good at anything, one must hone their craft. This means spending long hours in the practice of it, sacrificing precious time that others might spend enjoying themselves. Thus, many of my adolescent and teenage years were spent not playing video games at the arcade (because, in those days, that was the best place to play the best games) or skateboarding to 7-Eleven in pursuit of Slurpees (yet again, in those days, that was the best option), but instead shut away in the privacy of my bedroom, filling in notebook after notebook with short stories, thoughts, and the embryonic sprouts for what might be called painfully rudimentary essays. I was only ten when I first came upon the words of Jack London, but they had a massive impact on me:

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain.

That is what I began to do.

As the years passed and I found myself attending university, my practice of writing grew to become the principal action of my private life—and I say “private” because for a long time no one else knew about my writing. Well, I think my parents might have known something of it, though they never really went out of their way to diagnose me as someone who should perhaps be encouraged toward that particular career. It wasn’t until some college friends happened upon some of my hand-written poems that anyone outside of myself took note that I might have a gift. And the encouragement of my friends at this early stage of my adult life helped to confirm my own views on the matter, which were that whatever else I was otherwise doing in life, I should always be writing something.

It was shortly thereafter that I began what Jane Austen refers to as “the delightful habit of journalizing.” I suspect that all good writers keep journals, although I have no hard data to back up that statement. I also think all good writers keep their journals religiously, without anyone else in their lives knowing much about it—almost secretly, as it were. I myself can attest that for the entire decade I’ve spent with my wife, Valerie has had no idea that I find a quiet moment each day, typically at night, to journal my thoughts—and that I do this consistently. Utterly without fail. This is not to say I do it every day, though that is certainly the goal. Sometimes entire months pass when I’m totally ignoring my journals. But I will always come back to them, for I must always be writing something, even if no one ever reads anything I have to say.

Speaking of no one reading what I have to say, I regularly have this “vision” of a prophet wandering around in a desert somewhere, spewing forth the most profound utterances of life-changing soliloquy with only vultures and scorpions and snakes to hear it. It’s a disheartening vision, to be sure. Maybe this prophet has found the answers to all the mysteries of life but because there’s no one else around for miles, no one hears anything he has to say. I often feel like this, and I presume the 18th-century British writer Samuel Johnson must have felt the same way, for he’s known to have uttered the following:

I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.

Not that I’m an incredibly insightful harbinger of transforming information or anything like that. Far from it, in all probability. No, mine is most likely the oversized province of the mediocre. Nevertheless, I frequently feel like I’m the voice no one is hearing. I sit around my apartment each night and write page after page of prose—prose that I suspect isn’t half bad. But no one ever reads it. No one even knows about it. It’s like I have so much to say but no place to put it—except here in my self-published books, which seem condemned to exist in perpetual anonymity.

Even so, I would be remiss to not go on writing. To spend my life doing anything else would be an indulgent waste of my time and resources, to say nothing of squandering epic quantities of passion. Sometimes the messages that amass within me can get so loud in my head that if I don’t channel them onto the page, I fear I’ll suffer a stroke or something. And since the act of conveying the deep matters of life through the written word is by far the best form of therapy I have yet encountered, I will continue to churn out my obscure books of which I am enormously proud in spite of their present obscurity.

Taken from my book, Letters From a Dissident Philosopher.

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