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The International Writers Magazine: The Divided Self

How I Ought to be as a Writer
Piper Davenport

There are two characters here: Good girl, who is the do-er and Bad Girl, who is the Procrastinator.
GG: I am a writer.
BG: I am not a COMPLETE writer, you mean.
GG: I have written some things but nothing special.
BG: But not ENOUGH.
GG: I am on my way!
BG: Your way is taking much too long (voice drips with sarcasm).
GG: Stop saying that! I am trying, I am doing the best I can, right?

BG: Your best is not good enough. That’s why I think you should take a break. For maybe a day or two or three or four or five or six or seven. I mean, you’re not Sophia Loren for goodness sake. You’re not some goddess whose dreams are going to magically happen overnight. You are just you, a nobody, someone no wants to know. Deal with it. I mean, it’s completely arrogant to think that out of six billion people in the world, that people would read a beginner writer’s work, taste your words, savor in your surprises, disappointments, rejections, highlights, advances and setups. What makes you think of putting your name and standout in the same sentence?
GG: Hey, I like the way I write, sometimes. And when I don’t, sometimes I’ll stop and read a book or go see a movie and celebrate the rejection I’m about to receive. Then, I’ll start again and again and write crap. But then, I’ll just look at it and play with the words until they sound write. Even if I’m in a room full of people, it sounds right to me and they’re half-way paying attention, then I’m okay.
BG: You mean, writing from the heart? Sounds romantic but it doesn’t pay the bills.
GG: It is romantic. Life is romantic, especially the would-be writer. It’s like a relationship. It’s the thrill of the chase or being chased after. That’s the fun part. It’s the journey from beginning to end.
BG: Yeah, I guess but the ending is so bogus. What do you do? Start over again. Sounds like a chore, like washing the dishes. Yuck! No, it’s like homework. Something you have to do and that’s why you’re not a real writer: Blind optimism. You’d be better off in politics. Me, I have to know where I’m going.
GG: Who knows where I am going to end up at? I can’t predict anything, all I can do is love the words on the page and the language and everything that makes me feel good and go from there. I may not ever get rid of you but that’d be worse than getting rid of me and my hopes and dreams. As long as I finish, you will always be second to me, right?
BG: Who said anything about second place? I didn’t even know there was one!
GG: Umm, yeah. Second place means settling. Accepting less than what you deserve.
BG: So, are you saying that I’m holding you back? I didn’t force you to stop writing. Didn’t force you to take other people’s comments to heart? Didn’t force you to publish the first piece of crap that comes to mind? Where is my gun? I don’t have one. Oh, no! If anyone is to blame, it’s you!
GG: Me? You’ve GOT to be kidding me!
BG: No, I’m serious. Blaming other people, making excuses, it’s all a part of the rose-colored glasses you wear in your failure to accept your vision.
GG: I don’t think I looked at anything in my life quite that way. Maybe you’re right. I need to stop trying to make myself into something I’m not and just accept that I’m okay with how I write. There’s room in the universe for me and even you too. After all, who’s going to tell be the negative force in my life that engages me and keeps me on my toes?
BG: That would be me.
GG: And who’s going to welcome distraction in my life to keep me from burning out?
BG: That would be me.
GG: And who’s going to help me to write by creating this obstacle course in my brain That I must complete. Kind of like when I was in fourth grade? *Cries* I must, I must do something with my bust. Oh, what is the damn line? I’m getting Judy Blume flashbacks!
BG: Get over yourself.
GG: Yeah, sit and spin. Anyway, where was I? Oh, that’s right! I decree that my life is filled with not listening to other people but instead just following my inner-guide.
BG: That sounds terrible. Cocky. Wimpy. Cowardly.
GG: Oh, that’s not what I meant. What I mean is getting to a place where I’m following my passions and writing. More than yoga, more than calling a psychic, more than winning the lottery. Caring about nothing else except learning and reading and writing and moving forward. That my friend is the greatest self-gift for the would-be writer.

© Piper Davenport March 2008

Piper Davenport, is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a BA in English and currently in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Besides Hack Writers, I have also been published in the Lyceum, Pitkin Review, Back Hand Stories, 63 Channels, Jade Myst and Poetic Diversity.Org.

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