Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

04 July, 2016


Self confession time.

In the eight years that I served as a newspaper sports editor, I figure that I produced at least 600 "Time Out for Sports" columns. As a managing editor and sole contributor to the editorial pages of two daily newspapers over another seven-year period, I wrote in the neighborhood of 1,500 lead editorials.  I have written three books and at last count have published more than 800 personal and human interest items on my "Wrights Lane" blog sites. I have lost count of the free-lance articles I have written for sundry periodical publications.

And do you know what?  To this day I do not consider myself to be a writer!

Upon retirement, as forced and premature as it was, I succumbed to a higher call to become a certified lay minister in the Presbyterian Church of Canada. During two separate pulpit-fill stints in the Presbytery of Grey-Bruce-Maitland, I delivered in excess of 100 sermons, performed several memorial services and marriage vow renewal ceremonies, individually requiring untold hours of thoughtful preparation.

And do you know what?  To this day I never considered myself to be a preacher either!

The problem, I guess, is that I have always struggled to overcome deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy. That coupled with the fact that, with the rare exception, I have sensed that people by and large do not really listen to (take seriously) my written and spoken words.  In many respects I remain that day-dreaming kid who always found himself in the bottom third of his class at school.  In all honesty, what happened in the ensuing 60 years to make me an authority on any subject? I ask myself.  Have I been fraudulent in pretending otherwise?

Someone who writes understands writing in terms of something he/she does, not in terms of something they are. A writer is aware of the singular stuff of which the soul is composed, but will never shake that gnawing feeling of inadequacy. They will be at once inspired and made to feel inferior by other writers’ words. They respect criticism while never fully accepting it.  But they will never let any of that stop them. 

A writer continues to see the poetry in a broken watch, or a dog with one blue eye and one brown. They will give you their heart on a Saturday night for the story they get to tell on a Sunday afternoon. They will give you their soul always. And will give it to you in writing.

By my rough calculations I spent some 14,000 hours with the seat of my pants in a chair in front of a typewriter or computer keyboard, methodically creating epistles and pouring out my soul for the edification of an audience of readers or listeners. That's a big chunk of my life to have invested in something that has not brought about the desired sense of fulfillment.  I am left asking myself: "Have those 14,000 hours and countless sleepless nights been enough?  Should I have done more to consider myself a writer or a speaker of the word?"  Has there been something amiss in my attitude?  Is there something in my demeanor or delivery carrying through to what I write and say that is not conducive to believability?

My late wife, who in 40 years of marriage knew me better than anyone, said more than once: "I cannot believe Dick that you honestly believe some of the things that you say and write." If that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.

Great writing is not done in sporadic bursts of activity. It’s a slow, day-to-day discipline. You have to write despite all distractions. You have to make uncomfortable sacrifices. And worst of all, you do not have a cheering section. There’s no one to tell you that what you’re doing is worthwhile. No one to tell you you’re on the right track.

There is this romantic idea that writers have to write. That they have no choice. That there is this overpowering identity of “the writer” that has to be catered to. But being a writer or an artist isn’t a preexisting condition. You can have an aptitude for writing, but the bottom line is: Writers write. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer.

I have learned the hard way that you have to be true to yourself in all aspects of life.  You have to be motivated and, for that reason, over the past 10 years I have written only when inspiration has moved me, but generally with the perhaps misguided hope that my work will be believable and have some meaningful impact.  I left lay ministry when I felt myself becoming a false profit. By the same token, I have threatened, but have been unable to completely give up writing.

The words of a former insensitive Facebook friend still ring in my ears..."For Heaven's sake, make up your mind!"

The need to write remains ever-present in my existence today, but other priorities are increasingly limiting my time and creative impulses.  It is the disappointing reality of the aging process.

It is unlikely that I will ever completely rid myself of nagging inhibitions.  In my mind I will, likewise, never be "a writer" any more than I was a preacher in the true sense.

It has taken me a lifetime to understand that in order to be believable you have to believe in yourself.  For me there is just too much history in that regard to bring about a reversal and therein exists the rub.

Someone once said: "We get too soon old and too late smart!

For the duration, whenever the spirit moves me and circumstances permit, I'll just continue to be an impulsive occasional pretend writer...Believe me or not!

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