A fellow writer tells me how his writing career began:
My first poem was written very early in the morning in our bathroom with a highlighter on a crumpled piece of paper shortly after I’d learned to read and write in the second grade and was literally mostly composed of the words “I am alone” written line after line. I did not write it for anyone I merely awoke in the middle of the night and expressed something that had awakened me. My mother found the piece where I had left it in the bathroom and came into my room very angry that same night probably an hour or two later.
“Your sister used to leave shit like this lying around,” she said holding my first piece and yelling to wake me. “And you saw what happened to her!”
I did not realize at such a young age why my sister had gone I just noticed one day she was not around.
“I don’t want to see shit like this lying around anymore!” She said and slammed the door.
I love my mother.
This was my first poem.
I did not write again until the fifth grade to impress a girl and when I did her boyfriend began to cut himself out of jealousy and I did not write again until high school.
I have always refused to be brought to my knees by these things any longer than is necessary to rest. I suppose I was doomed to be a tormented writer. I suppose now the only question that remains, once I can finally convince myself that I am skilled enough at what I do to be truly proud of myself, is whether I will be a tormented writer serving drinks, dropping a fry basket and barely making rent for the remainder of my life or will I be barely making rent off of the word.
This is an abridged version of the original text sent to me by W.T. Johnston. Dare we like it? Beyond the pain provoked by empathy with the child, beyond the brutality of maternal rebuke, the unanticipated wrath of a jealous peer’s sickly/sickening eruptions of emotional inadequacy in the face of so much beauty – and I may say, humility, because I have read so much more by the same author in the meantime. Dare we? I loved it.