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He Finally Admits He’s a Writer

September 18, 2012

A couple weeks ago I was sitting in a circle with a small group of business men in a second-story room of a downtown church, which, come to think of it, could have easily been confused with any number of those anonymous addiction groups. Instead, these fine gentlemen had gathered to discuss my e-book, At Work as it is in Heaven. They wanted to learn a little background about how I, a business executive, had come to write it, and all.

“Well,” I began, with a great deal of conviction and worldly j’ ne se qua flair, “Although I pursued a career in management, there was always this incessant need for creative expression, and soon enough it just got the best of me. You see, I am a writer, and – ”

At this point I paused for a moment, surprised, as if I had just confessed out loud something I hardly dared admit to myself. I stared blankly out the window, gazing at the rooftops descending beneath, and then continued quite slowly and deliberately with the following statement: “- and writers are a strange bunch.”

How else to explain the awkward compulsion to document in great detail one’s innermost thoughts and feelings, only to publish for all to see as if there was some profound wisdom there to be gained for the world’s benefit? I figured it best to provide an explanation before they beat me to the punch, since they were surely thinking it.

Up until this point, I had trouble actually considering myself as a writer. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, yes, I’ve authored a book,” or to mention that I wrote an article somewhere, but to call myself a writer, well, it just sounds pretentious. Like, next thing you know I’ll be wearing a beret and smoking a pipe. I am not well-known for writing, nor am I all that talented or original, and it certainly does not provide a full time living. It’s a hobby, that’s all; just a little past-time.

Plus, well, I’ve gotten to see some of these people, these writers, up close, and they are by all appearances a desperate and insecure lot, clawing for attention at every turn to prop up an otherwise fragile self-esteem. Hey, you! Look at my blog! Look at my e-book! Be enriched from my transparency and spiritual wisdom! Please like me! Anyways, it scared me how much I fit right in.

I may feel somewhat self-conscious, but, hey, there are plenty of other people involved in far stranger activities. I know many who wake up in a hut in the wilderness at four in the morning to sit in a tree stand all day with a gun or bow, waiting for a buck to appear. Or how about that colleague with a great passion for collecting historical real estate deeds? Weird. Others participate in sadistic ironman marathons. We all have our sick methods of coping.

And whose business is it anyway if I want to think of myself as a writer, among other things? I am not defined by just one calling. I suppose “writer” is one of many identities I’ve accumulated or shed over the years, adapting like a new species to its shifting environment.

I’m adapting to the second half of life, you might say.

But, really, I’m over it. I will bravely face the harsh truth.

Hello. My name is J. B. Wood, and –

I am a writer.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2012 6:07 am

    I still feel nervous telling people that I write for a hobby. The first question is obviously, ‘what/where have you written?’.

    Its one thing to get someone relatively unknown to you, online, reading your work. Its quite another to face your readers face-to-face.

    How authors handle those ‘question and answer’ book shop reading sessions I don’t know.

    • September 19, 2012 5:35 am

      Yes, that is so true about online/anonymous vs. face to face. I am much more eloquent and witty online than I think I am in person…

  2. September 18, 2012 7:06 am

    Ah, yes! We are a strange bunch, and you’ve captured the angst of writing quite well. And, I’m married to one of those other strange ones who sits in a tree with a bow all day. But I eat well.

    What a great opportunity, to discuss your book within the church. I wonder, do you refer to the other group members as your Padewans?

  3. September 18, 2012 7:18 am

    Smiling here. From one desperate writer to another: you do it well. So excited to hear how the eBook is making folks think–helping them to grow. Feeling very grateful for this strange lot of friends in our writing world today :).

    • September 19, 2012 5:37 am

      Me too, Laura. I was telling someone yesterday how much my online writer friends have helped me to grow spiritually. There’s so much good reflective thinking and challenging and encouraging going on here among this “desperate” bunch! 🙂

  4. September 18, 2012 7:30 am

    We can write and do other things. I know a guy who is a construction worker and writes poetry at night. He is a writer. Thanks for raising the flag!

    • September 19, 2012 5:38 am

      Now that is pretty cool. I wonder what is fellow construction workers think about his poetry?

  5. daphinas permalink
    September 18, 2012 7:46 am

    You go JB! Everyone has more than one talent and no one should have to justify having ‘so many’ talents.

    After all, why would God give them to you if not to use them?

    No need to explain or feel strange… All are parts of you and the world really does not care what you do so long as it gets something good out of it.

    If they buy the book, they got something good out of it, so there!

    Take care and be yourself… Always.


  6. September 18, 2012 7:52 am

    Is there a Writers Anonymous group somewhere? W.A.

  7. September 18, 2012 8:16 am

    Ha! Sign me up for the addiction group. There are a couple of lines here I’m going to steal. We are a desparate and insecure lot for sure — if it wasn’t for sheer passion and stubborn drive why would grown ups act this way? It’s not like we’re making any money or getting any “credit” for being writers.

    Let me know how the beret and pipe work out for you.

  8. September 18, 2012 8:39 am

    Jim, Too funny… and humble! You inspire and help many both in your ability as a writer and a great friend! Thanks for the personal support, for providing so many of us with wonderful perspectives to reflect upon, and for you humor!

  9. September 18, 2012 9:17 am

    LOL! “We all have our sick methods of coping.”

    Indeed we do. Yessir.

    I’m glad that your “sick method of coping” ends of benefitting the rest of us. I am grateful that you’re a writer.

  10. pastordt permalink
    September 18, 2012 11:27 am

    Trying this again – it didn’t take the first time:

    “We all have our sick methods of coping.” LAUGHED OUT LOUD at that line. And yes, you are indeed a writer, Jim. A very good one. Thanks for this fine example.

  11. September 18, 2012 12:48 pm

    Oh, Jim. I laughed out loud several times! I’m so glad you fit in with our sad lot, yet somehow manage to cope in the “real world” as a business executive.

    I am glad that having a family means I have to get out in the world and away from my stupid screen. It keeps me grounded to discuss things like, “So, your son doesn’t pick up his clothes either?” or “Yes, this nonprofit has done amazing things in this community,” or “Yeah, pneumonia’s going around.” Normal stuff.

  12. September 18, 2012 6:17 pm

    That’s a phase I’ll have to go through. I feel so awkward telling people I have a blog – everyone thinks it’s about what I ate for lunch or my thoughts on the latest movie I saw. I keep things pretty hush-hush as a result. But I’m starting to realize that’s just another form of pride.

    • September 19, 2012 5:48 am

      Loren, I kind of had the same self-conscious feeling. People who are not writers (especially in business/mgmt) don’t really “get” it. So sometimes feel like it’s better to keep it quiet. I’ve let it out more, and its no big deal. Truth is, most people don’t care that much one way or the other.

  13. September 19, 2012 6:42 am

    Saying it also causes you to be it. Say it more often and then give thanks that you’re not an aspiring actor.

  14. September 19, 2012 8:17 am

    Wow, are we really a “desperate and insecure lot, clawing for attention at every turn to prop up an otherwise fragile self-esteem”?

    I didn’t know I was such a mess! But I fit right in, too. Glad you’re throwing your hat–your beret, even–into the ring with us!

  15. Laurel G. Coolbaugh permalink
    September 19, 2012 10:02 am

    Jim, this is wonderful, and I LOVE the title of your e-book…I can think of so many people that I would recommend having them read it.

    What I think of is, “Of Course He is a WRITER! The lyrics of your song, “Cornerstone” remain in my heart and mind all these years later.

    I have a suggested book for you to read (if you haven’t already), “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr…he gives fabulous perspective on the first and second halves of life and the beauty of the second half.

    • September 25, 2012 6:46 am

      Thank you, Laurel! And so good to see you here. (yes, please recommend the e-book to your friends!:). Funny you should mention Richard Rohr – I have just finished Falling Upward, and his name has come up numerous times over the past two weeks. Strange, how that happens. Reading his book was the source of that line about the writing being a “second half of life” activity. Yes, it is beautiful here, once you get to the other side of ourselves!

  16. Phil Herman permalink
    September 20, 2012 11:14 am

    Jim, “Writer” is just one of the many feathers in your coat. It is, however, one that you are very good at and clearly it gets you psyched. We should all be so lucky to have passions like this. Oh yeah, it’s a “cabin”, not a hut. Huts are in tropical places…like Gilligan’s Island.

  17. September 24, 2012 8:12 am

    It’s a strange thing to let your worlds cross like that…I remember when I “came out” as a martial artist to friends at church who didn’t know I practiced…I then remember coming out as a blogger to the friends at my dojo who didn’t know I wrote. There’s just something concretely final about letting one circle know about another.

    For me, I know it was very much about perception. At church, I didn’t want to be perceived as a brute–I was more established as a thinker and worldly, educated professional. At the gym I didn’t want to be perceived as one of those online babblers–I was already the “big, strong one” who, though out of shape at the time, was never assumed to be TOO much of a thinker. I was already comfortable.

    I did both and both worlds are fine, though with each new person I feel them trying (usually in vain) to make sense of the apparent contrast. I figure that’s their question to answer though, since I’ve already done it.

    • September 25, 2012 6:47 am

      Megan, I fully appreciate your insights here about “crossing over” between circles. And your final statement that you’re already there. Let the others come along, in time. They will.

  18. September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

    Aha! We knew it all along. 🙂

  19. September 24, 2012 6:46 pm

    Jim – not just a writer, but a good writer. You are securely in the club. For all our desperation, don’t you think it helps being around others like us? All of my insecurities seemed out of place and even more strange when I thought I was the only one.

    You are one of my favorites of the strange bunch!

  20. November 22, 2012 5:56 am

    Glad you’re accepting your identity as a writer. Btw “j’ ne se qua” means absolutely nothing in French, the phrase is “je ne sais quoi” 🙂 I tell you because I couldn’t get past it when reading the article, and others probably couldn’t either.

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