Editor's note: A writer's calling
It’s an accursed life. Why anyone would choose to be a writer is beyond me.
ART ON PAGE
By Stacey Warde
Years ago, as a student trying to decide whether to go into ministry or become a writer someone told me, “Don’t become a writer unless you absolutely can’t do anything else.”
I had the green light from Pastor Hollywood to enter seminary through the church’s sponsorship where I could work as his associate at the little Baptist community he was building, and together we would “bless people’s hearts and lives.”
It was a tough decision.
Sure, I wanted to be a blessing and not a curse but I couldn’t see myself standing in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday praising the Lord and singing songs with the expectant congregation, not when I could be sitting alone at my typewriter drinking copious amounts of coffee, pounding the keys, frustrated as hell, sweating profusely, laughing, cursing and writing stories.
It’s an accursed life. Why anyone would choose to be a writer is beyond me. But I have more respect for writers than just about anyone I can think of. It’s a ministry of its own with a calling that comes not from God but from the gut. It’s one of the toughest jobs there is, full of rejection, loneliness, and anguish.
Yet, the best cultures love their storytellers because these are the people who keep us mindful of ourselves, who hold up the mirror to our faces without calling us names, and making us feel bad. They reflect who we are, the good and bad, by painting our world with images we might otherwise never see were we left to our own devices and denials.
Good writers tell stories, great writers, however, make art.
Not long ago, we received a package from a young man in San Luis Obispo, an aspiring writer, with selections of his work. Take a look at these, he asked, tell me what you think. It was clear that he’d put a lot effort into his work. This guy’s a grunt, we thought, a hard worker who’s got what it takes but isn’t quite there yet. We turned him down.
But not without a word of encouragement from Publisher Dell Franklin, who saw the potential and sent the contributor a note: Keep at it, kid. You’ve got something here, but you gotta work on it a little more.
Nearly a year later, we received another package from the same author. This time, we were taken aback and delighted by what we saw. Larry Narron had produced compelling, multi-layered narratives that captured our imagination, made us pause and reflect, and nod in agreement. Not that any decent writer would ever expect you to agree, only that you be willing to go along for the ride.
And what an artful ride it is, as you’ll see in Larry’s first published short story, “The beginning of a great career in writing,” starting on page 18. You’ll agree that Larry’s calling, which comes from the gut, is to make art more than it is to check groceries.
We feel the same way about window washer Ben Leroux, whose cover story, “Bye-Bye honkies,” starting on page 8, reminds me of a Shakespearian comic-tragedy full of blind apathy, the threat of a crazy man, the sad humor of a dumb idiot, and the sweetness of a young Cajun lassie, all in the midst of hitting bottom.
Ben’s account of washing the windows of New Iberia’s adult novelty store puts us in a Southern gothic setting as good as any created by America’s finest authors, including Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor. If you doubt me, go now, even if it’s the only story you read in this edition, and read Ben’s story.
And we musn’t forget other tormented artists and illustrators like Martin Shields, who painted this month’s cover art to illustrate Ben’s story.
We welcome back Sherry Shahan, whose story “Iris and Jim” you’ll remember from a previous edition of The Rogue Voice. Sherry also has a calling and she’s been at it for a long time, turning words into art, as you’ll see in her latest contribution, “Jesus rides shotgun,” starting on page 21.
In fact, there’s so much fine authorship in this issue, we don’t really know where to begin. Turn to any page and you’ll find a story, poem or commentary worth the time and effort, and know that the creators of all this content work as hard as anyone on the planet, whose calling to suffer the indignities of rejection and loneliness can never be explained.§
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at email@example.com.