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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Confessions of a Writer

I once heard David Sedaris say
                No one should presume to call himself a writer.
That’s a title others have to give you.
                No one’s ever called me a writer.

I mean no one with the authority to make the call.
Fuck it. I write. I’m a writer.
It’s not a question of whether I’m good at it.
                I’ve also heard many times from many writers

This: be honest.
They always say it as though that’s all good writing is.
Just root out the truth of what you see
                Or think or feel—and word it. The rest is learnable

Technique. Fuck that too.
Let’s be honest. No one knows what combination
Of native verbal talent and learning
And luck and observational and emotional skill

Goes into making someone a writer.
                Or some writer “successful.”
You read this stuff and it sounds just like
                Famous X is having a beer-soaked conversation

With the mirror. And losing it.
                But he’s successful.
Or this other one saying shit so convoluted you swear
                He himself could not have understood it.

And then there’s the dubious philosophy or
                The jingling noises of consonants wracking
Vowels. I don’t get it.
                That’s my first confession.

My second is that I’ve never read Dante
                Though I’ve always meant to.
Or Finnegan’s Wake, which I doubt would repay
                The effort, though I hate the inescapable

Economic metaphor. I doubt my emotions
                Validate anything. And I don’t believe
The intellect is up to the task of figuring out
                The universe. And saying that questions

Are more important than answers
                Is just like Edward Taylor praising God
For murdering his children. And if there were no God
                And all values were contestable

And if life were a game
                Whose stakes are actual death,
And worthless misery, and joy that is only joy
                Because it is blind—well then

That would mean the world would be
                Pretty much like it is.
A world in which Donald Trump
                Could be president.


  1. Write what you know: You
    Forgot that one. Someone told Gore Vidal to so that. He picked ballet and succeeded. But that was after he wrote about the other thing he knew and the New York Times blackballed him.

    So it's good to know more than one thing,
    And to write about them.

  2. Tried that once. Boring. I much prefer to write what I don't yet know.