by Ken La Salle
Have you ever sat back and asked yourself, “Why do I write?” You know, as in, “Why, out of the million or more other things I can do during my time on this planet, have I chosen to make writing that thing that sets me apart from everyone else?”
Well, I do.
In fact, I have been asking myself that question since sometime in the early 1980’s.
And I never quite seem to find an adequate answer. I never quite nail it. “Because it’s fun,” certainly doesn’t cut it. “Because I’m downright awesome,” is far too egotistical. “Because I’m the best at what I do,” is something Wolverine might say.
No. I’ve never really been able to answer that one. I actually put it aside some time ago, chalked it up as one of the Great Unknowns in life. Now, when that question pops into my head, I just push it aside, push it aside, push it aside…
(After all, this wouldn’t be much of an article otherwise. Now, would it?)
Like so many other things, the answer was triggered by a seemingly random occurrence. I was watching a video review of a band, which reminded me of my days singing in a couple of bands, which set a whole course of dominos a’topplin’.
Yes, back in the ‘90’s, I sang lead vocals for a couple of bands. One band played covers – your typically, party band – and the other band played originals. We hit a couple of clubs, rehearsed in a warehouse, made big plans… It was a lot of fun.
But I was never much of a lead singer. I knew that at the time. Oh, my voice was good. My delivery was spot on. I could write some terrific lyrics. No problems there. The problem came out in my performance, my stage presence. I was never quite sure if I was doing things right. Was I moving around too much? Too little? Should I play more to the audience? Should I focus my act? I just couldn’t integrate myself into my title of lead singer.
But that was fine, I told myself, because I hadn’t started out as a lead singer. I had started out as an actor. And I was a pretty good actor. I could get parts fairly regularly. I worked on stage and in film. (Granted, it was extremely low budget film.) I knew what I was doing on stage and I could do my job pretty well. The problem, however, was that I could never be sure if I was doing things right. There was always this doubt in my mind over every aspect of my performance. This left me with a deep-seated kind of insecurity. I just never felt like I was good enough.
When I finally made the decision to focus strictly on my writing… I didn’t really understand why until, as I mentioned, today. And, perhaps, this sounds familiar to some of you. I just never questioned myself as a writer. I’ve never asked myself or anyone, “Am I doing this right?”
Writing is mine and nobody can take it away from me. I don’t care what genre I’m working in. It’s mine. I can move from writing books to essays, from writing plays to YouTube sketches, and it doesn’t matter. It’s mine. I can strip away the rules I’ve held for so long and set myself free in the inky black ocean of absolutely uncertainty and, still, I’m okay with it.
Realizing this puts so much in relief, as with a definitive contrast. I recently spoke with a person who absolutely hated something I wrote. The piece wasn’t poorly written but they disagreed with what it said. I knew I could no more change that than change myself because my writing is my voice. It’s okay for people to hate it, but they should prepare themselves to hate a lot more because I’m not going to stop.
This is mine. The page is my place.
And, perhaps, being this sure isn’t the best thing possible. Maybe I should doubt myself a little more. Maybe, then, I’d be more prone to listen to criticism. Such an attitude might make my work more appealing in the long run. Maybe.
But I don’t care.
Am I doing this right?
I don’t really care if I’m doing this right.
I’m doing it.
Nothing wrong with that.