The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shells and Spines

Just got a second review for “Great Sky Woman” last Friday.  This one is wholly positive (Booklist, May 15, 2006) and uses words like “magnificent” “engaging” and “adventure on a grand scale.”

Sigh.  MAN did I need to hear that.  Why?  Because I am insecure, because I care so very much about every book.  Because I pour my life into every project I work on, break my head open, remove the protective walls from around my heart.  I have to, because that is the only way to access my talent.  I CAN’T do less than my very best—that would immediately devolve to hack work, and that I cannot do.

But then, how do we protect ourselves?  My answer is that, in life, you can either have a shell, or a spine. I’ve chosen to have a spine, which means I’m continually stripping away my protective covering, peeling away my skin to expose the nerves beneath.  I have to show the world my obsessions and wounds and hopes and dreams and fears…and when you do that, you become vulnerable. The world can hurt you.

Like the rest of humanity, I’ve been wounded more times than I can possibly name.  We are all carrying damage, and the task in life is to carry those wounds with grace, and heal those we can heal…and pass along the wisdom we have learned to those who follow.

To me, THAT is the purpose of writing, of art.  That is the  nature of contribution.
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