When we say, “all of my ideas have already been had,” what we’re expressing isn’t jealousy, it’s doubt in our own creativity, in our worthiness to write about anything at all. Never mind that originality in the broadest sense is hardly possible, and never mind that the beauty of most good essayistic writing lies in the writer’s ability to both make the specific feel universal and, paradoxically, turn the commonplace into something momentarily extraordinary. When we say “I should have written that,” what we mean is “How unjust, unfair, unkind that you were faster, smarter, and more fortunate than I. How terrible that I have nothing more to offer.” We’re not amateur novelists at all, just whiners.

– excerpted from Books I Wish I Wrote: On Writerly Jealousy, by Kaulie Lewis

st-jerome_caravaggioSt. Jerome and the Angel
Simon Vouet, oil on canvas, ca. 1622/1625

Do the work. The words will out.

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