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Dear Little Bobby,
I want to be a writer. I have written a few stories but aside from that I’m not sure how to actually be a writer. How does anyone ever become a writer? Is getting published still a possibility these days?
—Writing against the wind
Wow! There is a lot packed into that short question of yours. The first step to being a writer is to write. In fact it is the ONLY step in between. If you want to be a writer, write. Write about anything and everything that interest you. Write stories, write essays, write poems, write songs—the more the better.
Some people only want to write poetry or maybe, for years they have had their mind set on writing a novel. Whatever it is, I think they should do it. However, usually one does not simply write a novel without trying to write a novel. Novelists often write short stories first. They utilize trial and error, often with many starts and stops.
As far as how anyone becomes a writer, it is different for each person. What brings us to writing, and what makes us want to write, is unique to the experiences we each have. As our various cultures have evolved, so have our methods of expressing ourselves evolved, from cave paintings and hieroglyphics to Greek dramas and modern comedies. From Hemingway on a beach to us at our keyboards today, the way we express ourselves is always changing. Publishing used to be one thing, then another, then another and now the world of publishing looks very different than it did just 50 years ago.
If I were you, I would write for myself. I would write to express what I need to express. Perhaps to help others (maybe by discussing some difficulty that you’ve had) but always to help me. In fact, as I write this column for YOU, I am also writing it for ME. So that I might reexamine my own motivations about writing my music and much more.
I did not ever expect to be writing a weekly column for this online magazine. The thing that brought me to writing this column was that someone (who is now my editor) read my frequent writings online and thought that I might enjoy doing this. She was not only correct, since I do enjoy writing, but now writing this column on a weekly basis has helped me to focus my mind, hopefully resulting in me being a better writer.
You can try submitting your work to publishers, editors, distributors and more, but much like a musician who is playing his guitar at home, or on stage—are you doing it for them? Or are you doing it for you? It is possible to do these things for ourselves and others but in the end, those who write (or play) for themselves are usually the ones that end up benefitting others the most. The search for truth begin with searching ourselves first. To know ourselves is to begin understanding the world in which we find ourselves. Write about THAT. Write about what you know. Write about what you would like to know.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“How does it feel, To be a visionary poet?
How does it feel, To pack a pen with vinegar and insight?” —Jellyfish, “The Ghost At Number One,” 1993
Dear Little Bobby,
I was raised by very evangelical, conservative parents. It was a childhood filled with judgments, fire and brimstone. It always focused on the rapture. So I rebelled, which strained my family relationships even further. Now as an adult, how can I handle these crazy people that raised me?
The only way to beneficially deal with them, or with anyone at all, is with compassion. That means loving them when they are in a space of judgement. That means forgiving them even as they are passing judgment on your eternal soul, and forgiving them when they say that your friends Adam and Steve are going to hell for getting married.
As frustrating as it can seem, forgiving them is the only way to avoid essentially becoming them. It is written that while Jesus Christ himself was dying on the cross, he prayed that the people who were crucifying him be forgiven. I have always felt that being able to avoid the lust for vengeance is a sign of enlightenment, whether it be the Buddha having limitless compassion for all living beings, or whether it is a temporary enlightenment—the kind where you or I are able to momentarily not act out of anger towards others, or even towards ourselves, whenever we feel sufficiently wronged.
I have been told that I am going to hell more times than I care to remember. It was especially sad to hear it from family members, however distantly related. It felt much different than when the condemnation was coming from the fire and brimstone preachers who used to frequent the campus of my university.
Those preachers would condemn students to hell as we walked by. My interactions with them, although sometimes humorous, were never very productive. Although I suppose I had some issues from home that I needed to excise in a public forum by telling a homophobe with a Bible where he could shove Leviticus 18:22. But did my anger help that idiot? Of course not. Did it help me? Perhaps it helped me see that I was wasting my time and energy… perhaps not.
I recommend patience with your family, yet I fully admit that it is something I have struggled with myself. What is the alternative? Anger? You can only be you. Do THAT as best you can. The next time you rebel, whatever form that may take, try to forgive you, try to forgive them, remember that they are caught up in their own experiences the way most of us are, and then try again to love them with patience.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“You’ve got your Mother in a whirl, she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” —David Bowie, “Rebel Rebel,” 1974