Sometimes The Honesty’s Not Too Much

I was just GMail chatting with a friend and she told me she was at an event with a writer and he was asked: Can anyone be a writer? And the writer was honest enough to say NO. I’ve been asked this as well. I often respond with a question of my own (which, I must admit goes against one of the most fundamental teachings of my father, but I digress): Can anyone be a football player? The answer to that is obvious. And yet the answer to the first one isn’t. That’s bullshit. Of course it is. Anyone who answers it in the affirmative better check their pants because they are on fire.

We like to tell kids that they can be anything. And at some point, very early on, that’s probably true. And then it isn’t. The “you can be anything” school is damaging. The affirmation movement is about easy outs. Things are hard work. There are a lot of things I’d like to be but can’t. Not won’t. Can’t. So what? There’s honesty and then there’s patronizing. Right?

Perhaps the question should really be “Can anyone be a good writer?” But then again, who defines what’s “good”?

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