“What’ so special about your life that you want to write about it,” one date said to me when I was in my early twenties. I guess it was his way of flirting – that negation thing that men do that’s supposed to be sexy — but as I looked down at him (I think I was sitting on a washing machine in what must have been a prelude to a kiss) my heart must have fallen ten stories.
Now I don’t remember if I kissed him, I don’t remember if I ever went out with him again, but I do remember that his words stayed with me. What’s so special about you? What makes you think you can be a writer?
I didn’t come from a place where people were telling me I couldn’t be a writer. In fact, I don’t think most people really knew what being a writer entailed. Like me, they read books, newspapers, magazines — this was in the pre-internet days — but did not consider the maker of these media a “career.” Professions were teachers and lawyers and accountants.
I had an inkling I wanted to be a writer — I’d been penning prose since elementary school — but wasn’t sure what to do after that.
Clearly the answer was: not tell anyone about it.
I did not know there were people out there in the world who are jealous, or maybe just plain ignorant, and that their offhand remarks can stay with you. Can sink you. Of course that did not sink me — hey, man I don’t remember your name: I’M A WRITER —but it did not help me either.
I wish I could go back in time to my younger self, and say JUST WRITE. KEEP WRITING. DON’T LISTEN TO ANYONE.