“I saw the bobcat by the shed. I think it’s here because of the rabbits,” my dad said the other day. “There aren’t as many rabbits around now.”
“Do you remember when I tried to hide rabbits in my closet, Dad?” We have never talked about those rabbits.
“Sure,” he said. “That bobcat is big. I didn’t know bobcat’s got that big. And it’s skinny and tall.”
“Gee, I didn’t know they were very big either, Dad.” We didn’t talk about the rabbits in the closet.
I don’t know what I wanted my dad to say about those rabbits.
I don’t know what I want people to say about my writing either. Being a writer is a hell of a way to live–you might get compliments you can’t believe, you get criticism you don’t want to hear, or you get nothing at all. Did you read my story? Sure. What do you think about bobcats?
In graduate school I met a guy whose job in the Gulf War was to pick corpses up from the roads. He fidgeted in class. The writing life is not that life. It is a luxury. And still I can whine about how much I put into it and I don’t hear what I want to hear.
But when I was a kid, I didn’t hide those rabbits so that my dad and me could have a magical conversation decades later. I’m not writing so that I can hear that magical compliment. I’m writing because I’ve avoided thousands of other jobs.
Are you able to say exactly what you want from others when you write? Money? How much? A compliment? What would that compliment be? Approval? From whom? Revolution? From what?
And when your writing insecurities get out of hand (if you’re the sort of person that happens to), what helps you put things back in perspective?