Gotta love Betsy Lerner. Her blog The Forest For the Trees gives advice for new writers on publishing, writers block, and fear of rejection. Her blog is a continuation of those lessons. It’s candid, sassy, and funny. If you don’t already subscribe to it, I highly recommend you do. I’m going to respond to her final question “The writers life. How would you describe it?” Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self came and gave a talk on her life as a young writer at College of the Holy Cross, my home university. She said that writers operate between two states: extreme egotism and crushing self loathing. To be a writer you have to think your words are worth something. Otherwise why would you even bother recording them on paper? You think your better than everyone else, that your special, a deeper thinker, a better writer. Behind all this ego is a lurking suspicion that everything you’ve done is a fluke, that you really can’t write worth a damn and that your readers have been fooled. Your a genius and a fraud, a prodigy and slob who just got lucky. That fear that you actually are worthless is enough to keep you learning, to make you improve. To write in the first place you have to have an ego. To become a good writer, you have to simultaneously nurture self-esteem issues. Without them, you’ll just remain the good writer’s greatest fear, bad writing.

By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Betsy Lerner

There is a reason they don’t let me out much. What was it? The beauty of the buildings, slate the color of pigeons, the girl with striped tights, purple water bottle swinging astride.  I sat alone in a church and listened to an organist sigh between pieces.I dined with bright minds and tried a new food. I bought a notebook that always spells hope. Flimsy, gorgeous new ideas that blossom and die in a moment. I am at Kenyon College and tomorrow I will talk about the writer’s life. You know that lonely clacking train, that aggravated assault, that self mutilation, that particular hope, that elegant insistence, that awkward moment, that drone in your head, that never ending conversation.

The writer’s life. How would you describe it?

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