While I’d never admit it, I’ve always harbored a shame about wanting to write. Even fictional characters who aspired to the same goal made me squirm with unease. Every Thursday night, as we watched the television series The Waltons, I waited in dread for the inevitable scene where Richard Thomas’ character would talk, rant, whine, shout or type feverishly about wanting to become a professional writer. The weekly outburst always came as some version of “With all these noisy kids distracting me, I’ll never be a writer!” Or, “Daddy, now I’ll never get to go to Boatwright College and become a writer!” Each tantrum made me shudder. To me writing wasn’t real work. And anyone who thought it was, he’d never really grow up. John-Boy Walton’s pride was my shame. I hated him for saying such impossible aspirations aloud. Such aspirations also seemed to demean the blue-collar folk who had to tolerate listening to them.
Shame on me for wanting to do something so worthless. Shame on me for not accepting the life my family lived. Shame on me for shaming them.
Chuck Palahniuk writes about “the shame of being a writer” over at LitReactor.