I guess they won’t exchange the gifts that you were meant to keep

My talent for writing has done me very little good in my life.

It’s sad, but it’s true.  People have told me that they have gotten a lot of pleasure out of my writing, and that makes me happy to hear, but the fact is that I haven’t gotten much pleasure from it.

When I’m doing it the process feels… necessary.  I wouldn’t call it pleasurable, in the sense that playing in the water or eating good food is pleasurable.  It’s more like the satisfaction that comes from fixing  a broken machine.  It feels good to have done it, to have solved a particular sequence of words.  But the work… it’s work.  It’s often frustrating and always difficult.

The finished product hasn’t brought me much joy, either.  And I don’t just mean financially, although it’s true that I haven’t made any real money.  I mean interpersonally. People like my work–some of them like it very much.  But they don’t particularly like me.  How could they?  They don’t know me.

My relationships have always been about what I can do for other people, and my life as an author has been no different.  I suppose that all artist/audience relationships work like that–the artist gives and the audience takes and there we have an end to it.

I never particularly wanted my facility with words. I am not aware of ever doing much to earn it.  I’ve always written and over the years I’ve gotten better at it, true, but if I ever set out to learn how to write well it’s so long ago that I no longer recall the feeling.  It’s just something that is a part of me now, like my failing vision and the pain in my joints.

I can think of a dozen talents than I’d rather have than being able to write compellingly. I wish I was a musician.  Or a surgeon. Or a salesman–I’d love to have the ability to connect with people.

I’ve had people tell me that they wish they had my talent.  I’d give it to them, if I could.  I am sure there are a lot of people who would get a lot more out of it than I have. I try to help other writers, offer my advice and critique.  But since I don’t know exactly how I do what I do I can’t really tell anyone else how to do it.

The sad fact is that being good at something doesn’t mean that doing it is good for you.

 

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About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Writing, Poetry, Who I am and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I guess they won’t exchange the gifts that you were meant to keep

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    I know several authors who say they write because they can’t not write.

    As art-forms go, prose isn’t that socially accessible either: if you’re at a party, you can grab a guitar or a sketchpad and use it as a prop for interaction; but there’s no real way to gather a group of people around you by writing and polishing 10,000 words of magical realism.

  2. ZurkPoetry says:

    I agree, you write very compellingly. Interesting perspective, I feel like I can’t add condolences or well wishes because this is your issue alone, not in the fact that it’s private, but because it’s how you feel and only you can change that no matter what anyone says.I wonder how you will resolve this if at all. I enjoyed reading your thoughts, thank you.

  3. LindaGHill says:

    Except for that satisfaction of having created or “fixed” something. I think that’s something all of us need in life. Periods for me of non-creation – of simply living life as it’s brought to me – have been my most stressful. You might get as much satisfaction out of knitting. I did, before I realized I was a writer. Then again, I was building worlds in my head while I was doing it.
    What do you think about, other than real life relationships, when you’re alone on a long drive?

  4. agmoye says:

    Reblogged this on lightningbooksbyagmoye and commented:
    A writer’s life is never understood, envy by many sought by many as each seeks to find the reason they must write. A.G.

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