Charles Bukowski once wrote that he hated talking to other writers about writing. He didn’t say why, but I know why I do: they are other writers, and I want to be the only writer in the world.
All through grade school up until high school my peers would butcher words and sentences from readings that I would recite flawlessly. It went straight to my head.
However, I once lost a spelling bee thanks to an extra “n” (I must have spelt “Bananan”); I was one of two remaining contestants.
I then began to write in high school, earning praise from English teachers, which doesn’t come cheap, despite attendance being the only price of a passing grade. In a creative writing class I wrote and read a piece that was met with applause by my peers, from whom I was mostly estranged, so I knew they really liked my writing and not me. I then considered myself a writer.
I held onto my writing abilities as my art skills declined (I am now a mere cartoonist) and I lost interest in music.
I have this image of a writer who is eccentric, hyper, cynical and Woody Allen-ish; or bitter, violent, possibly alcoholic or drug-consuming (the aforementioned Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey), but these people are more poets than writers; they live their work.
I am not one of these people.
There was one day when I was looking out my window in my late teens and as I stared at the tree in front of my childhood home, realized that I would never be a rockstar and should stop thinking that I would be. It was in that moment that my inner-rockstar creed changed; a creed that bore no words but was more of a state of mind. I can’t imagine myself ever being a rockstar writer like Kesey or Bukowski. But I am still a writer.
There is also something awkward about hearing another writer talk about their methods. I usually just don’t care. And if they are better than me, something which I am willing to admit, if not always to their faces unless pressed, then I wind up being jealous and know that they wouldn’t divulge their secret technique if they had one anyway; or, if they were born with some kind of writing talent, there is no way I will ever possess it as they do or understand it and they may not even understand it themselves.
When I hear one of my peers talk about writing, I feel as though I am hearing myself sing. It is mostly awkward, and there are all the real mistakes that transcend the ones on the page: the personal, embarrassing flaws that I know I, being cut from similar cloth, must have as well.
This wouldn’t happen if I were the only writer in the world.