What A Writer Values

Not so long ago I participated in a government subsidized program in support of the film industry (Hi, I’m from Canada!). In the application paperwork there was a question among the usual informational fare that stuck with me. The question was: “What do you value most about being a writer?”

I was completely stumped.

I still am. Forget trying to analyze what they might be trying to glean about my personality from such a question, I was stuck on simply trying to comprehend the question itself. What do I value about being a writer? Could it be the low to non-existent income? The lack of having anything in common with anybody in my family or social circle? Or maybe what I value most is having the measure of my hard work gauged - in seconds and without any real pontification - by everybody.

Yeah, there’s lots to value about being a writer. So why do it? You know why. If you’re reading this, you know why. Because you don’t choose “the arts.” Who would? It’s a hereditary affliction and you live with it. That sounds worse than it is. It sounds like a resentful complaint, but it’s not. It’s just a statement of fact.

They gave me three lines to answer the question on the application form. Three things I value most about being a writer. In the end I could think of only one and I wrote:

The ability to exorcise stories from my brain.”

And really, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

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