How do you know you’re a writer? Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Virginia Wolff might have “known” because other writers, publishers, and Broadway and Hollywood producers heaped praise on their writings. But the operative word is might. Existential knowing is a different sort of knowing.
Like great athletes, composers, and musicians, great writers are rarely satisfied with their work. They are always reaching beyond themselves. Often they operate from the depths of depression, despair, obsessed with death, the dark depths of the human psyche and the world’s instinct toward self-destruction. Some of the greatest – Hemingway, Wolff, Sylvia Plath, and Edgar Allan Poe – do themselves in.
How do you know you’re a writer? Some would say you “know” it existentially by the ebb and flow between times of creativity and nothingness. When I feel down and the well runs dry as a bone, I know existentially…I might be a writer.
– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN Feb. 28, 2015, inspired by tour of Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida.