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.