Gifts Differing

For a while today I felt a bit like the blond bombshell who wants to be admired for her IQ.

I’ve been reading about writing again.  You know, literature.  Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Buechner.  Writing that defies time and tide; digs down into the bedrock of the human condition and takes a good, hard look at who we are, who we aren’t, and who we should be.  I read about how serious writers put a lot of themselves in their work–as in, “opening a vein” to spill their hearts’ blood across the pages.  And as I read, I started to feel like a pygmy among giants, a gnat among eagles, a dirt clod among mount–

Well, you get the idea.

Shakespeare I ain’t.

The exercise made me feel sort of sad and shallow.  I wondered if I was a bit of a cheat.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times:  The greatest gift we have to give is the gift of ourselves.  But how much of myself do I put into my books?  Do I keep my distance, or do I give until it hurts–my joys and heartaches, my passion, my doubts and fears?

Do I even have the guts to open that vein?  On purpose, I mean?

I pondered those questions for a while, trying to come to grips with my place in the literary scheme of things.  I am, after all, 99.999% sure I’ll never write anything remotely equivalent to The Tempest or The Brothers Karamazov or Huckleberry Finn. You never know, but odds are against it.  So where does that leave me?  Somewhere between hack and dilettante?  Purveyor of pulp fiction?  (Assuming I get even that far.)  Can I call myself a writer without blushing?

The conclusion I eventually came to was this:  God never says, “Oops!”

I write the stories that come to me in the voice I’ve been given, giving of myself to the extent and in the ways I’m able.  I’m no Dostoyevsky, but then … Fyodor was no Kathy.

No comparison intended.  First of all, I’d lose.  Secondly, as far as I know, delusions of grandeur aren’t among my many faults. I’m just saying we each have our place in the grand plan.  You know, like Esther coming to the kingdom for such a time as this.

I’m here, writing what I write the way I write it, for God knows what reason.  And that’s reason enough for me.


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