Hi, My Name is Phil and I’m a…

by Philip W. Benton

Presenting at last night’s Oscar ceremonies Robert DeNiro made the following observation on writers:

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

Certainly any writer, successful or not, can relate to this statement in some degree. I’m of the opinion that the extent to which the above description rings true depends on how one defines themselves. For example, millions of individuals have a true gift for writing; however, if asked, would never identify themselves as a “writer”. These individuals, and I was once in this category, define themselves in a more comfortable cloak of identity; such as doctor, lawyer, parent, counselor, etc. Personally, I’ve been writing and creating all my life and always dreamed of being a journalist and a novelist. My education and professional identity however, protected me from the fear and risk involved with actually pursuing my dream. It was only by shedding the professional mask, that I could finally step toward the path of becoming what I truly aspire to be. The act of “quitting the day job” however, dumped me on the fast track to the panic and the “soul-crushing” inadequacy DeNiro mentioned last night. Some would say the price is too high but I’m not one of them. While “beach-bum” or “vagabond” are perfectly fine pursuits, I am compelled to finally stand up and own it: Hi, my name is Phil and I’m a writer.

What drives our desire to create at such a cost? That’s an age-old question to be sure. Some would say they simply have no choice. For me, it was simply running out of excuses. Either way, the mind of a writer can truly be a terrifying thing. But hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

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