Monday, January 05, 2015

Of Writers, Writing, and the People Who Simply Do

Something I wanted to mention in my last post was my observation that, although Henry Rollins has written and published 20 books, he doesn’t describe himself as a writer.

Think about this. How many people do you know who describe themselves as writers who haven’t finished so much as a short story, let alone an entire book?
I say this as a sinner still struggling to absolve himself after only two books. As it is, lots of people write. Lots and lots of people. Being a writer is nothing mystical or magical than confers any sense of specialness to you whatsoever.

Back in the day, it was considered part of Being a Gentleman that you wrote a book or two. Consider Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They cranked out literal volumes of researched history. And they didn’t call themselves writers.

All being a writer means is you do nothing else but write. Which is rather lame, come to think of it. The hell of it is most people who call themselves writers don’t even do that. They go to groups with unfinished pages in their hands, they join Internet boards, they go to classes. But the only thing that comes close to qualifying them as such is that one handful of unfinished pages.  

The other takeaway here is that I didn’t want people to think I was being dismissive of Henry Rollins before running the image macro with his quote on it. I simply couldn’t fit this into the already overlong intro. I do admire this guy’s hustle. And if he’s got to backpedal and mush-mouth an apology once in a while, it’s just the cost of doing business. 

And of that, I cannot honestly judge. One of the biggest things I’ve had to come to terms with writing this blog is how much self-censorship I’m willing to tolerate. I’m still struggling with it.