If you are to be a writer who will be recognized, you must have faith that you have been created to be a writer, that writing is a destiny toward which your life has been aimed. Virginia Wolf and Toni Morison felt that way, and James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, and Ernest Hemingway. Many writers we haven’t heard of yet, but will, also feel that way. The faith that you are fated to be a writer is a writer’s first requirement. You must believe that it is when you are writing that you’re doing what you were brought into the world to do.
That sense of being fated stirs writers to action: now they must go out to embrace with their whole being their writer’s destiny, to accept it, to resolve to be it, to realize their writer’s vocation, and not flee from it the way many people flee from the heights they could have reached.
As a gift to you–a person with a literary talent–nature has singled you out. You have been specially endowed with not only “creative stuff” that is the source of achievement in all the arts and is possessed by only a minority of people, but with personal qualities that equip you specifically to fulfill the writer’s demanding role–energy, high intelligence, curiosity, a love of your language, a dictionary in your head of favorite words, the playfulness of a child, doggedness, discipline, daring, intuition, intensity, deep emotions, imagination, self-assurance, a warrior’s courage, the stamina of athletes, maturity, refined taste and wise judgment.
History shows that writers who will amount to anything also all have an attitude of “seriousness” about their work and their lives: “This is my only life; I am not playing games. I try to write every day. I strive to get better and better still and will do that all my life.”
It is the identity of a writer that gives you the confidence that you are a person with a definite life task—to write, to spend your life writing, to create poems, stories, novels, dramas, screen plays, essays–whatever form of literature you desire that comes out of you assembled in your own words, fashioned from the disappointments and glories of your own life, different as your life and your writing are from the life and writing of all other writers who are alive now or have ever lived.
Writing–the physical acts of writing, the movement of your muscles to write, your eyes to focus, the shifting of your weight in the chair–is so essential to writers that if they are prevented from writing for any reason, they will be tense and conflicted until circumstances change and once again they are able to write freely, confidently, and without holding back. And then, as though touched by a healer with extraordinary powers, they will be well again.
As a writer you must be true to your awesome potential–must be in fact what you are potentially. If you are not doing enough with your gifts, your conscience lets you know. The conscience of a writer asks, “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Have I become what I should have become? If I have not become what I should have become, what will I do now?” Your writer’s conscience is the voice that calls you to be the person you are fully prepared to be, the uniquely talented writer you have been created to be.
© 2023 David J. Rogers
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