Some years ago I attended a training session in Boston. I’d never been to Boston. Funnily enough, just a few weeks before, I’d met an author at an event I was working – a delightfully eccentric, older (than me) man with a sharp mind, voracious curiosity, and less than average enthusiasm for diplomacy. It wasn’t that kind of encounter but it was really great conversation.
“If you’re ever in Boston…” he’d said.
So one evening I made arrangements to meet him at a bar in Cambridge and we picked up where we’d left off. I felt a bit like an ingénue and I had the vague impression that he was quietly amused by our somewhat clandestine meeting – drinking Chardonnay and talking about our careers in a dimly lit bar.
“You should be a writer,” he told me late into the evening. Flatter me again! But I looked at him and I told him the bald truth.
“Honestly? I have nothing to say.” And I meant it.
He threw back his head and laughed until he caught his breath enough to cough, “That’s marvelous.” He then pondered for a moment and said, “I’ve noticed that nice people don’t make very good writers.”
So what did he mean? (Anybody need a thesis topic?) I’ve tossed around the idea that maybe whether you’re an artist or an entrepreneur, creativity requires a certain amount of hubris – the courage to be an amateur, the ability to fail against your own standards, and enough “I don’t give a damn” to put it out there anyway. We can’t be artists without doing art. We have to show up.
So am I going to be a writer? Who knows and frankly, does it matter? What does matter is that I have something to say and that, now and again, I say it. I don’t want my inner life to be a silent movie playing to an empty house. And I don’t want to abdicate a role in the conversation around me because I don’t know what I have to contribute.
Mother Sugar, you saved me a seat. This is me pulling one up to the table.