Call Me a Writer or Call Me a Fool – just don’t Call Me By Your Name

Roald Dahl once said:

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.”

Now is Mr Dahl calling me a fool, a freedom fighter, or a slave to my soul? Or all three?!

I’m going to go with a fool.

Ever felt that way?

I do.

Like 9 out of 10 times a day!

Often plunging haphazardly into my writing, my pieces almost always go straight into the bin, and I walk away feeling a complete idiot who’s wasted his time.

But maybe that’s what we do as writers. We push through the 9 to hit that perfect 10; that jackpot. And the sound of chips pouring out of the slot machine? Music to the exhausted writer’s ears!

More often though, it just feels like I’m never going to hit the jackpot.

More often though, it feels like I’m on the edge of a cliff. One false move, one grammatical misstep, and I plummet 1,000 feet until I smash into tiny pieces below, like scrabble alphabets scattered all over the floor!

Yet like a fool, I awake the next day, resurrected and ready to roll!

Because there are days when writing is all that I can do.

Because there are days when writing is all that gives me meaning and purpose.

Because there are days when writing is all that makes me feel alive!

So what if my words won’t grace the pages of The New York Times, nor the airwaves of NPR? Or (closer to home) The Straits Times Opinion section (though they have appeared in the Forum pages), nor the radio waves of CNA938‘s Asia First (though I’ve been on their Money Mind and Night Life shows)?

I write because it’s how I now best express myself, and because it fulfills a need in me. A desire to plant a flag on this part of the world that declares:

   “I exist. I belong. I have a voice. Hear me ROAR!”

So, call me a writer or call me a fool. It’s okay. I’ve been called worse.

Besides, as William Blake once famously said:

   “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”

So if being a writer means becoming wiser everyday, then call me a fool and I’ll gladly answer:

   “Yes, I’m a fool! Now, would you like to read what I wrote today?”

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