Why “Are You a Writer?” Is a Bad Question

lucille

Some people consider themselves a writer but, when asked, never admit as much. They are the shy and modest ones, I hear you saying. They are the realistic ones, I hear the other saying.

Some people consider themselves a writer and, when asked, explain at great length. They are the outgoing and confident ones, I hear you saying. They are the vainglorious bores who talk better than they write, I hear the other saying.

Some people are found out by their writings. The people who don’t write will say to them, “You should write about…” or, “Let me tell you my story so you can write about it…” as if you are a boy scout obliged by your abilities to do good in the abstract name of God and scout’s honor.

But it doesn’t work that way, even if it tries. Your body can be warmed by another man’s fire, but your inspiration cannot. It remains cold. It will not give of itself.

I thought these thoughts when I read Lucille Clifton’s brief poem below. If you are a writer, quietly or loudly, incognito or out, perhaps you will identify.

 

why some people be mad at me sometimes
Lucille Clifton

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering
mine.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Why “Are You a Writer?” Is a Bad Question”