The Walls We Forge: An Author’s Greatest Confession

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When you choose to focus on art full-time, funny things happen. And they’re not all roses. Trust me. The famous British philosopher and founder of Social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer, once said, “There is no growth without emotional laceration.”

Recently, after a harrowing, eye-opening social media experience, I came to perhaps the most important epiphany of my artist life. I believe that we all, after being hurt and frustrated, build defenses around ourselves. These defenses can make us feel special, separate, even protected. Long ago, following human tragedy, I built a fortress. After reading books by all the greats, some gone, and some still here, from their indomitable words, I stole jewels and made a beautiful crown, which I placed upon my head … and called myself a great writer.

Perhaps if one of you, like some raved one-star reviewer, had told me long ago what a vain ass I was, I might not have been ready to accept the truth.

Now I am ready.

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I, Jesse Giles Christiansen, hereby confess to all who might read this that I have no idea whether I am a great writer or not, and, that such a determination, if it were ever true, is hardly one that could be self-declared. The greatest writers of our generations were crowned only after unimaginable sacrifice and incessant rejection, and even they did not crown themselves. I only think that I’ve moved a few readers with my words because strangers have said so. Beyond that (e.g., moving a vast number of readers) is perfectly beyond my control.

Now I’m free to be the writer I must be, rather than the writer I think I must be. And from here on, I promise, it will all be about the words and nothing else. For they go with us, in the end.

Not crowns.

Yours in literature,

J.G.C.

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5 thoughts on “The Walls We Forge: An Author’s Greatest Confession

  1. Shani Struthers February 21, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Love it, Jesse, and you are a great writer – believe it! And great works will be the ones that endure long after fashion and fads are over.

  2. Jesse Giles Christiansen February 22, 2015 / 2:34 am

    Thanks, Shani. I agree that a great work is all about endurance; I just don’t believe a writer can know he or she has written one. I do believe in my potential to write one. Yours too.

  3. Aislinn Pearce April 19, 2015 / 6:30 pm

    To Thine Own Self Be True

    By thine own soul’s law learn to live,
    And if men thwart thee take no heed,
    And if men hate thee have no care;
    Sing thou thy song and do thy deed.
    Hope thou thy hope and pray thy prayer,
    And claim no crown they will not give,
    Nor bays they grudge thee for thy hair.

    Keep thou thy soul-worn steadfast oath,
    And to thy heart be true thy heart;
    What thy soul teaches learn to know,
    And play out thine appointed part,
    And thou shalt reap as thou shalt sow,
    Nor helped nor hindered in thy growth,
    To thy full stature thou shalt grow.

    Fix on the future’s goal thy face,
    And let thy feet be lured to stray
    Nowhither, but be swift to run,
    And nowhere tarry by the way,
    Until at last the end is won
    And thou mayst look back from thy place
    And see thy long day’s journey done.

    Written by Pakenham Thomas Beatty [http://allpoetry.com/To-Thine-Own-Self-Be-True]

    Jesse,

    I don’t believe you to be a “vain ass” and I’m sorry for whatever insanity occurred on social media, but glad I missed it if it was someone treating you poorly. I believe you are someone who believes in yourself and is ready to push yourself to the next level you want, always. I am glad you’ve reached an epiphany and want to get back to your “roots” focusing on the writing as that’s where your heart and soul are. You are and always will be an author with a poet’s soul. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be proud of your accomplishments either. Keep doing what you do, being who you are and striving to be the best. The internet will be here, social media will be here, and people will be asses on social media, just because they can (even if others are undeserving) so don’t let that change you. Long after it’s all gone, I agree that your words will live on and go with you but just be sure not to “go gently into the good night”, stay fierce!

    Just a single voice in the crowd,

    Aislinn

    • Jesse Giles Christiansen April 19, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring words, Aislinn. You are, and shall always be, a huge blessing in my artistic life.

      • Aislinn Pearce April 24, 2015 / 5:08 pm

        I’m exceptionally lucky to have you as part of my literary and artistic world. Thank you!

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