Twice this week, in conversation with other writers, I referenced an essay that Junot Diaz wrote about his struggle to write his glorious novel, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
I post the essay again here for all to read (I first wrote about it in February 2011.)
You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. – Junot Diaz
Here is the entire essay.
While I missed out on AWP this year, we in Columbus were fortunate to have Nathan Englander also forgo AWP and come to the Thurber House to give a reading in support of his new story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (what an amazing story).
What a riot of energy that man is. He is so funny and charming and self-deprecating and unfairly blessed with such talent!
To say I was inspired by Englander is an understatement. I am often inspired by a book – by the writing itself – but listening to writers talk about their struggles, their process, their pain – that is more than inspiration.
Seeing the flesh-and-blood writer read their work and talk about their life – it does something for me that the book alone can’t do. It gives me hope, another reason to keep trying, to keep writing. That we all face similar struggles to create art.
It’s not better or worse than reading the book, but knowing – seeing – the writer behind the book gives it another dimension that makes the writer more accessible and real to me, and not a mythical “WRITER” who divinely set down these magical words to paper.
And that’s why Junot’s essay is so personal and inspiring to me.
Oscar Wao reads so naturally that it DOES feel as if it was set down divinely. Reading his essay brings Diaz back into the mortal world of the writers like the rest of us.