Am I a hack? In honest deference, I’m not sure. When can I submit to the idea of being mediocre? Why do I continue to lend my voice to empty rooms? Is there purpose in a scream whose only response comes from its own echoes? Self-doubt slithers in the in-between times. Recrimination rules the quiet space. The silence is a blade and its bite a mortal one. Why speak, I ask? To what ends do my words stack upon one another? Is silence the appropriate inclination? Am I worthy of reception?
It’s the questions of every person who writes, I’m no different. I write from compulsion. I write to create cenotaphs of imagined people and worlds. Will they find new minds to expand in after I put them out into the deafening static? There is no way to know where the will resonate. They may float outside my head forever seeking audience, never more than an inkling of an idea, born to remain unrevealed. Or with luck and they will warm in the bosom of a receptive soul and hold sway in their minds and hearts.
How many times do I come back to the stories read to me in my youth? Those tales ever prevalent and present in my being. Thoughts of the oversized book unfolding in the hands of my father as I lay under my covers at night still evoke the same response as the nights they occurred. I can still marvel at the tales of Olympus, the jungles of Africa, the oceans floors beneath the waves, the unknown calls of vast frontiers, the orphan dreams of hearth and home. They filled my heart with astonishment then and the fill it with hope now. Those stories, once the quiet whispers in the back of someone’s mind, found their way to the end of a pen.
It’s that wonder and struggle that has me writing. I want someone to feel that amazement that I did. I want someone to step into the clothes of my characters and understand what it would be like to be them. That’s my greatest wish. It’s why I write.
So I will fight back the self-doubt about my skills and endeavor to create the wonder that I long for. Whether I’m a hack or savant, that’s immaterial. Someone will always write with more eloquent prose or have a greater hook to pull in people. But that not why I write. I’m not engaged in some literary competition to be the greatest writer in the world. It’s whether I have a story to tell or not that matters. I want an audience to be sure, but more than that I want to tell the stories I have inside of me. I will strive to be the best writer I can. I will work on polishing craft and improve my writing. If I am a hack, which I may be, I will write. I will tell stories. I will ignore the gnawing nagging of my insecurities and write.