I had a meltdown the other day – a ‘not good enough, not smart enough, not skilled enough, want to throw in the towel’ meltdown. Writing is just too hard. I had received three rejection letters from different literary competitions. The first rejection was an expected long shot. The second, yeah, okay. The third rejection said, “You are a grammatically challenged cretin. And shallow.” I pictured the reviewer with a perfect British accent, manicured hand emerging from an impeccably tailored jacket, perched over the Delete key. Cursing, I knocked a stapler off my desk, breaking my little toe.

I wrote an email to my writing teacher-mentor saying, “I’ll never make it as a writer: I’m not literary.” In all her generosity and wisdom, she asked me why I wanted to be literary and not the best version of myself?

I had never considered this an option. After a couple of cranky days, I decided – my best writerly self is ‘Boldly honest and best snarky.’

In the hypercritical and lonely writing world, I feel the pressure to conform but I won’t.

My writer’s voice and soul is smart (and silly), funny (and serious), competent (and inept), sexy (and prudish). At times, I can be snarky and sarcastic (while trying to avoid cruelty). My worldview as a middle-aged woman, Jew, widow, immigrant, global citizen, and body therapist informs my writing.

My essential soul is not up for change to fit somebody else’s template. Or comfort. If my writing makes you uncomfortable, all the better.

I will make mistakes and cross lines, but I promise to learn from them. Help me by pointing them out – as kindly as possible. And I am interested in your voice and your worldview. We can struggle together.

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Images by Andrew Giovinazzo and Victoria Young. Used by permission.