Writing, As Heavy as a Mountain

A Guest Post By: M Zane McClellan

If you are considering a career as an author, let me warn you, it can be a real pain in the asterisk. A Japanese proverb states, "Death is as light as a feather, duty as heavy as a mountain". That is how it often feels earning a living in a creative field. I feel a sense of responsibility to be an excellent in my craft. I have always enjoyed storytelling, it is rewarding both in the creative process, and when a reader appreciates my writing. Until being a writer became part of my identity, creating a story was as light as a feather. When I began to do it for an income, it became heavy. Could I earn a living, and would my writing stand the scrutiny of professionals?

As if I had been diagnosed with some horrible affliction, I sought second opinions from close friends, and loved ones. While they offered me the encouragement I needed, they were less forthcoming with the constructive criticism I required for growth. I am eternally grateful for their love and support. I can’t blame them, let’s face it, I’m adorable.

I then solicited the opinions of people with more experience in the field. This is something every writer struggles with at some point, making themselves vulnerable by sharing their work. Opinions were mixed, some constructive criticism and some less than flattering, but honest, appraisals. I was encouraged to continue writing by everyone I asked, but still struggled with considering myself a writer. I have read enough over the course of fifty years to know good writing when I read it. My writing has yet to reach the standard of excellence I expect of myself.

With continued effort I began to receive comments on my blog, and Facebook page, that made me realize some people genuinely appreciate my writing. They commented about the emotions my poems engendered and described them as, “exquisite”.  While my inner skeptic began to wonder which of my friends put these people up to this, my heart began to accept, gradually, that I am a writer. The emotions that I feel as I fill the empty pages are being conveyed to the reader in a meaningful way. This gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and helps me bear the weight of the title, Writer.

If I never achieve literary acclaim, or get a book deal, I know I am a writer. I have already achieved my goal as a writer, to move and engage readers. A reader told me that she found comfort from her grief reading my poetry. After losing her, “one and only”, a year ago, my poems touched a part of her that nothing else had. There really is no higher praise than that for me. I now consider myself a successful writer, as Emerson wrote,

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

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I grew up on Long Island in New York and attended Adelphi University majoring in psychology. I served honorably for three years in the Marine Corps. My background is in corporate Training.

I am a poet and post my poetry on my blog, The Poetry Channel, here: http://www.thepoetrychannel.wordpress.com/.

I am working on my debut novel, a fantasy set in Africa that draws on African myths and legends. It is tentatively titled, “Dragon and the Flea”.


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