There has been intense discussion in my circles, both on- and off-line, of late about whether or not everyone is a writer (inspired by Rachel Toor’s “Scholars Talk Writing”). For the record, I believe everyone is a writer and everyone should write, and that may be why I was struck by a term I heard recently – Technology Evangelist – used to describe a person who promotes a particular product or technology with the zeal commonly associated with religious evangelism which describes the promotion of a particular set of beliefs (see Wikipedia). That is when I had the epiphany that I am a writing evangelist.
The act of writing itself is a technology and it uses a variety of technologies ranging from the low technology of using a stick to etch into mud or to the high tech of typing words on a computer screen. Writing can be a simple tool we use to note appointments or remind us to buy milk. Writing can be a private tool we help to remember the details of important milestones and think through important ideas. Writing can be a public tool to connect and communicate. Writing can be a weapon wielded to change the world or a spotlight to shine in dark corners. Writing can be majestic and magical or mundane and minute or every point in between. We all have the power to use writing for these purposes and this makes us all writers.
Sadly, too many voices have been silenced by red-inked swords and the scar tissue left in their wake. These writers forget that the only opinion that matters is their own. Unfortunately, too many writers have crumpled their words and tossed them away because they cannot compare to Hemingway or Angelou or Gonzales. These writers forget Hemingway was not always Hemingway and Angelou discarded more words than she shared. Even famous, published Writers (with a capital “W”) do not perform every writing task with equal panache. Even struggling novice writers can make angels weep. We are all writers even though at any given moment, and on any given task, we perform on a broad spectrum.
I pity those whose own self-belief must be built on the bones of others’ despair. There is not a limited pool of writing talent. Conceding that others might possess ability does not diminish yours. Helping other writers does not threaten you. I despise those who want to guard the gates to the ivory tower home to all Canonical Writers with ridiculous rules and an insurmountable moat. The truth is that any writer at any time has the power to inspire and to move any audience. We are all uplifted when writers are given free rein to write.
That is why I am a writing evangelist. I soothe balm on scarred and damaged voices. I celebrate the magic these voices bring to my life. I stand between these voices and the naysayers and doubters. I believe that nurturing voices is my gift to the world and by doing so I have made the world a better place for all of us. Are you a writing evangelist? Do you believe everyone can be a writer?
Text added to original photo found through Creative Commons.