Edited: October 2012
There were times I wondered what if I became an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer– or the CFO of Starbucks! These are challenging professions. Somehow writing is the excuse of a person to get distracted with things, like the ‘lights in the bevatron up the hill (Didion)’ or traveling (in the eyes and mind of Iyer), instead of focusing on exploring other inhabitable planets, diagnosing and treating malaria in Africa, or fighting slave trades unheard of in modern times.
But when I was eleven I wanted to speak my mind, on paper. Fourteen years later, the desire to be a writer still burns in me. I am not popular, have about 60 WordPress followers, am an editor by day, and haven’t a single short story to shock the world with. But I want I want I want to be a writer. To be better in this field I chose (SEO), with the occasional pull of ‘the champagne bubble life (Consunji)’ notwithstanding. One day– there’s always that one day– I want to be all the versions of the writer that appealed to me: novelist, screenwriter, professional blogger, and essayist.
I want to win a Palanca, a Booker Prize, a Pulitzer, a Nobel Prize. I want to study scriptwriting at NYFA. To go to Oxford and study C.S. Lewis, even J.R.R. Tolkien. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to talk to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Gertrude Stein in my dreams. Yes, so very self-absorbed of me.
Writers, however, are not entirely myopic.
We have this capacity for deep connection with others. Thousands of years since the papyrus was invented, we have been threading history and civilization with the strength and candor of the written word. We’ve created worlds– from Here be dragons to Middle Earth to Westeros– only to make humans grasp that in living, ‘imagination is better than knowledge (Edison)’. We can no longer hear Lincoln speak the Gettysburg Address, but we can resonate with the ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ more than ever. We don’t just send people to space, but also document our discoveries. We don’t just test medicines in labs, but also publish our findings. We don’t just dictate laws, but write them.
So some find in ourselves the calling to write because as a species, we should not forget lessons, compromise lives, and stop learning, growing, evolving. The responsibility proves great to those who respond.