Letter to Vene, aged 35, from Vene, aged 40

Dear Vene,

Congratulations, and my sincerest apologies. You have chosen to embark on a lifelong journey of writing. It is not without some serious reflection that you have made this choice. After all, one does not simply call oneself a writer, especially when one has nothing to show for it since, what, college?

It’s a daunting task, writing. And it can seem overwhelming. You’ll no doubt want to impress off the bat. Show the world your command of the English language. Come up with some elaborate ideas. Fanciful concoctions from the deep recesses of your mind. But I’ve got some news for you.

Good writing doesn’t have to sound artful. It doesn’t have to use big words. It doesn’t have to make you think hard. Sometimes good writing evokes the right emotion in your reader through the simplest form. Your life–that manic retch of facts and emotions– led you to this place. That is why they will keep reading you. But first you must get them to care about what is in your head and your soul that no one else can say. And it is by virtue of the simplicity of your word choice, your phrasing, your meter, your details, that you will hook them. Let the words melt away like wet sugar cubes to reveal that which lies beneath.

It takes time and a lot of work to get to the point where you can write like that. Where you are unfettered by mechanics and the reveals just happen. The trick is making it look effortless. But that trick is only revealed to you through countless efforts. Through failure and revision. Persistence and introspection. And sometimes having a friend or colleague tell you what’s really up with your craft when you are too afraid to share it with anyone at all.

And then, writing is no longer an effort. It occurs in a trance. It’s the living that is really difficult. Because you have to go through dark days and brilliant nights to experience the raw feeling of being alive. Only, it can get away from you. You start living this life where everything’s meta. Where you can’t be in the moment ever because you’re so busy trying to capture the details for later use. A turn of phrase, an anecdote, a tiny, inconsequential fact that colors the moment with surgical precision.

You send your offerings to the gods in a blaze of fire so they might reach the heavens. Your burdens–time spent, opportunities deferred or cast aside, privacy obliterated, normalcy exhausted–these are the things you offer. And in return, your reward shall be poverty, constant self-doubt, and persistent struggles for clarity, brevity and wit. Also frequent accusations of narcissism. Oh, and a gift so subtle, everyone who will read you will think they can do it too. That’s ok. Let them try. It doesn’t hurt anyone. It just means you have to keep getting better.

Oh, and stay uncomfortable. Because anytime you get too high and mighty, you’re primed for delusion and a good sock to the jaw from reality.

And just one more thing. One day, you’re going to move to NYC and sign up for comedy sketch writing classes. It’s gonna scare the bejeezus out of you. Don’t let that stop you. No one ever was made a legend that didn’t first walk through fire.

Now go get ’em, tiger.


23/09/2019 12:48 a.m. EDT

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