Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Unknown Writer,

Who May Never Have Anything More Important Than Writing
in Your Life & Who May Never Find "Success":

I could have written a letter to my favorite published writers,
the ones who made me want to write & keep writing: J.D. Salinger,
Flannery O'Connor, Dylan Thomas, Nathanael West, Emily Dickinson,
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ned O'Gorman, but, living or dead, they don't
need it & I don't need to write it.

You're the one I need, the one I reach out to, you whose writing
is the treasure you burn to share with anyone who will read it,
and you whose greatest fear is sharing it & being rejected,
misunderstood, laughed at, ignored.

You who can't give away your stories though they burn like molten gold
in your veins.

I've had very little success myself, just enough & just often enough
to keep me going, to keep me coming back for more of all writing
is & what writing isn’t. Just enough to allow me to suspect
that it's not success in cash or fame or publication or sales
that any writer born to write finally writes for, but something
beyond that, something else, something that all
the words in the world can't name.

You who write in every country, every block, in every window,
before the sun rises, at 3 a.m., by candlelight & flashlight,
and nobody knows, even the ones who love you most.

You who write in every language in the world, in languages
nobody but we have ever heard or read.

You who write to spread the healing of laughter, you who write
to drown the world in tears.

You who write drunk or high and don't need to write drunk or high
to write the masterpiece we were born to write.

You who know your masterpiece is the one that will begin as easily
as writing a grocery list, with not a thought of a masterpiece
in a thousand miles.

You who have written for a thousand lives and never published a word,
who write a million words and no soul will see a single one.

You who write in a prison cell or a closet or a tent or an alley
or a penthouse.

You who write to rip open & slap on the table everything that's
inside, and you who write to hide.

You who write to pound into words the bloody truth what we see,
and you who write for nothing but the beauty of the words.

You who try to peddle your stories to every stranger on the street
and you who bury your stories in a locked box in a locked drawer
in a locked room.

You who many have read and not one has understood.

You who will never be satisfied by what you write and you who can’t
write a word you don’t love too much.

You whose dream exceeds your talent, you whose talent exceeds your
dream, you whose dream & talent dance like Fred & Ginger but nobody’s

You who feel your life will be wasted unless you find the success
that as we chase it in vain we twist ourselves in knots far more
terrible than we’d be in if we never found a drop of that success.

You who will never be as good a person as you are a writer and who
tell yourself you don't care.

You who will never be as good a writer as you are a person and hate
yourself for it.

You who think of writing all day at work and are too torn by erosion
& exhaustion at night to write a word.

You who write all your lives and come ever so close once, twice, many

You who see that writing is a spiritual pursuit, a prayer, praying,
a forging of the spirit in daily micro-toil for clarity, cutting and
pruning as if words were dead twigs & branches in the tree of your own soul.

You who believe that you will never be happy unless your writing brings
you the grinning love, the shy admiration of strangers, a dazzling, hilarious,
profound interview on TV, the mystical experience of our name in print in
whatever form or realm we treasure most, not once but over & over.

You who believe that success is more powerful than death.

You who writing drives raving mad, you who writing restores every day
to sanity.

You who writing has left like a wild bird never to return, who writing
hides inside like an eagle in a mine.

You who nobody may ever hear of.

You without a twitter account, a blog, a computer.

You writing with your blood in the sand.

You wasting your writing in talking, talking your visions away.

You who forget the dreams that tell us how & what to write & why.

You who happily pull your hair out for the right word.

You who have found in the silence of a million words the secret
of our own voice.

You who hate the world for being such a mess that you cannot write
about anything but what a mess the world is.

You who hate the world for not finding you so that you can tell the
world how beautiful it is and how much you love it & everybody in it.

You who dream of walking down the street where beautiful people stumble
around asking us for an autograph & you go, Aw shucks okay but I'm just
a regular guy but what do you love most about my writing in as great
a detail as you would like?

You who know that all we have to do is begin writing, and all we have
to do is finish.

You who are more terrified of sending it out than of wallowing in
worldwide fame.

You whose writing is waiting for publication in Heaven.

You who are writing more & more for just yourself, more & more just for
God, more & more for One Perfect Reader.

You who write our life away for the eternal moment of the writing.

You who write to remember & you who write to forget.

You who write to gouge out the truth & you who write to murder the lies.

You who live to write and you who die to write and you who write like a
fish swims and a bird flies & a tree grows in Brooklyn.

You who give up, you who want to give up, you who will never give up,
and you who give up every day & keep coming back, because that's
what we do, we just keep coming back for more...

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