I’m with the band.

Remember going to see that über-cool avant-garde punk-jazz band no one else has heard of except your friends because your friends together comprise the members of that band, and they’re playing an exclusive set in their garage or someone’s abandoned art gallery or nearly bankrupted bar that only you and a select few who know your friends know about? The only reason you know about it anyway is because you also play a screamin’ rock guitar, and sometimes you like to throw in a sweet saxophone and watch the huddling audience of two or three just melt, like weep in a pile of quivering sweat and torn t-shirts that scream “Xanadu is God” or “Glen Campbell is my father” or “My cat loves Pet Sounds”…

Remember that? No? Because, to me, that’s the definition of being a writer.

We’re the ultimate garage band–even if we’re a solo act (check out Daniel Francis Doyle’s concept of solo act). If you write, chances are you also are a reader, critic, champion, defender, “word spreader,” and overall logophile.

Writers keep the “word” industry alive. (And no matter what you say about its struggle to breathe healthy, clean air, it’s still kicking, friends.) We read each other’s stories, whether they’ve just been birthed onto the page, scrawled onto a coffee-stained napkin, appeared in the freshly inked pages of Asimov’s, or gleam at us from the glossy pages of rags like The New Yorker. We breathe words because we can’t envision life without them. And because of this affliction, we have no choice to seek each other out. So we compete with each other, we argue with each other, about authors and concepts and ideas that few others know about. Unless they happen to also be writers…

And we do it because we love it. Some get paid to do it, but they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t love it. So next time you sit down at your desk, imagine you’re recording your demo, not for some record label that may or may not spit you out after you grind out a “playable” hit, but for your musician buds, the ones who know what it means to hit the right notes, who hear it when you suddenly play a flat–on purpose–and who will go to your one-man show in the basement of your cousin Jim’s house because that’s the only place that will take you.

When we play, we play for the other writers, the once and future lovers of words, the ones who feel the air knocked out of them when a phrase so impossible but so true flitters across the page. That’s what engaging in the act of writing is, for me: a moment to connect, to sound out the chords of a story, to wrap myself in the magic of words that belong not only to me, but to those ones who bang endlessly into the night, waking the neighbors, until the most unique, most perfect piece of art finally breathes into creation.

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