On The Privilege Of Being A Writer

My mother’s father was a coal miner. (Died of black lung.)

My father’s father was a farmer. Sun up to sun down.

My father worked 4AM to 4PM in a chemical-rich pigment factory.

My mother cleaned houses. Day in, day out, back-breaking work.

I am a writer. I sit in a fairly comfy office chair put words down on screens and on paper and I tell stories. And outside my window is a pretty forest and lots of sunlight and my walls are a bright and optimistic green. I have a terrier who sometimes warms my feet (or tries to kill me with her intestinal miasma).

It’s pretty cushy business, this writing gig.

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t think that what I do is not work. It is hard work. It is real work. Stories matter. Art matters. What we do is a craft and it takes some mad combination of skill and talent to both survive and thrive, and I’m not going to take that away from myself or any other hardworking ass-busting wordsmith out there. It can be mentally exhausting. It can leave me worn and tattered and gutted like a rotten stump. Some days the words run free like rabbits. Others are like pulling teeth out of a rabid dog.

Just the same, I think it’s important to find a little perspective. A little… appreciation. Because being a writer — being allowed to earn a living doing what I do — is obscenely delightful, unwholesome in its privilege. I’m a lucky fuck. I’m lucky I don’t have to wreck my body and break my bones and come home dirty and pissed off and ruined doing something I don’t want to do. I’m not saying that there’s not room for complaints. Or room for improvement or examination or a place to talk about our struggles and our fears. But I think from time to time it’s a good idea to stop and sit back and say, “At least I’m not castrating llamas or mopping up the floor at a porn store.” I think it’s a good idea sometimes to say, “This thing we do, it’s pretty great and we’re pretty lucky to be able to do it.” Because it is. And we are.