I am not your typical writer. I didn't start writing or wowing my family with my wild imagination at the age of 5. As far as I know, I was not read to as a kid nor have I been reading since, well, since I could read. I'm not the kind of writer that is also an articulate speaker. I don't read classics like Dickens (I actually couldn't get past the first 20 pages of A Tale of Two Cities). I don't often "get" the deeper meaning of works or agree with the general, literary consensus on the profundity of a book.
For example, although I appreciated the attention to detail, I had to force myself to get through All the Light We Cannot See. Although I think Celeste Ng is exceptional at constructing multidimensional characters and complex family dynamics, Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere didn't catch my fancy. That is not to say they aren't brilliant writers, it just means those works or that particular writer's style isn't for me.
I'm writing about this because I feel like an enigma-like quality is often attached to artists and their abilities as if there is a right way to truly be or do something. This is still something I struggle with. I like Jason Reynolds because he's a fantastic writer but also because he promotes literacy and openly talks about how he didn't begin reading until the age of 17 and I think we need more of that.
The most comparable analogy that comes to mind for this phenomenon is the superheros' origin story. Artists are often expected to have a similar one that acts as a catalyst for their creative profession. Many fantastic authors have them but there are also those that don't, but you rarely hear about them. I think that this, in a weird way, ties into our need to be extraordinary and our reluctance to talk about our failures, or in this case, our plainness. Ok, this sounds weird even as I'm typing it but I think you know what I'm talking about. The need to be extraordinary manifests itself all over our social media lives. How often do we see images of celebrities and even our friends on their social media sites and just think, wow, they live such an amazing life. Such a, beyond regular life.
I listen to author interviews sometimes and I just think, damn, their words are so profound. And for the longest time, I was under the impression that I too, had to be profound to be a writer. That I had to have vastly original thoughts to put me in a league with the best of the best. I no longer believe that to be so. I don't have to agree that Shakespeare was the greatest playwright that ever lived to have an opinion as a writer worth listening to. A painter doesn't have to love the work of Van Gogh to produce work with meaning.
To all the people with similar worries, you don't need a good origin story to set yourself apart from others. You just need to work hard and be passionate.
There is nothing wrong with being ordinary.
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