Writers and Rock Star Envy

IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that young male writers, in a shadowed corner of their dream selves, would much rather be rock stars. And not (just) for the girls, fame, and money. The thing is, if you’re a writer, you’re supposed to think, “I can’t even imagine not writing,” and “Writing’s not a choice, it’s what I do.” You’ve said such things a thousand times, and you know that if you don’t believe it in the rag-and-bone-shop of the heart, you’re dead. But writing is wicked rough: on the best days your creative juices can make you come away from your desk smelling like a barnyard animal; on the worst, nothing flows and it’s all Kafka: labyrinths of mind-sludge, dead-end isolation, bad shit all around. And because the proportions of workload-to-eventual-payoff are so unbelievably sad, you fight a constant war against cynicism (toward clueless editors, publishers, Philistinism in America), resentment (toward friends flourishing in finance or tech), and a competitiveness towards other writers that is just so self-demeaning. In the middle years of writing your book, doubts pervade your inner weather: you stew in them the way Manhattan subway riders marinate in July humidity. And so you think, oh, for a draught of vintage! That you might drink, and leave the world unseen! Or, failing Keatsian transport, if you could just execute a document dump — digitally toss your manuscript in the fire — flee your writing room and head down to a sweaty rock ’n’ roll club where walls rumble, beer flows, people dance, and — hey, look — there’s this guy on stage who’s screaming the secrets of his frustration, anger, and longing, and who’s found a way to do it that’s nearly as subtle and penetrating as your novel!

Plus it’s cathartic and sexy and fun.

And you say to yourself, “how do I get to be that guy?”

-Corel Banca writing in the L.A. Review of Books

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