Great Writers


Photo: John-Mark Kuznietsov

Of course, I should have seen it coming. I’m ready to go for it: set the price, push the button, and post more YouTube ads for the new book. But I must wait for now. The reason isn’t important.

I’ve known for a while (in fact all the while I’ve been tinkering with Facebook ads and YouTube videos), that this is where I should be, and this is what I should be doing, and it should have been happening a long time ago. This afternoon I sit in my blogging chair, writing.

Obviously I’m a little rusty. I was telling my new trainer Adam that it’s important to show up at the keyboard and let the story arrive. Kind of like Rory Jansen pretended to do in The Words, a very sad movie if you’re a writer and you know that you’ll never be the writer you want to be because you have limitations. And you know what those limitations are, which makes it worse. Writers like me aspire to greatness with words because that’s what we writer’s do. Otherwise, why write?

Most writers know a good writer when they read one. Inspired and lifted by another’s words, a fire is kindled within them to try something similarly great. And they may try for a while. But then they read another great writer and realize how woefully far they fall from the standard they’ve set for themselves. It’s a sad situation.

There’s no amount of training in the craft that can make you a great writer. Studying craft makes for an adequate writer. The only thing that makes a great writer is for him or her to accept that life is imperfect, that the past cannot be changed, that hurts cannot be undone, and the only thing he or she can do going forward is to try to protect others from the consequences of his or her pain. But even that’s not what makes a great writer. What makes a great writer is the pain and his or her capacity to befriend it, and hold that strange friendship in his or her soul, the place out of which the most powerful words might emerge.

Yet, it’s only a phase. Eventually, the great writer, once solely motivated by the need to expunge their pain, moves on. They’ve found instead that embracing the pain actually gives life and enlarges their capacity to stand courageous and remain in their present integrity, while not taking themselves too seriously. For writers, it means more words. More words that get through more layers of another’s soul and moves them to become something great.

Maybe a great writer.