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  • I wrote my first novel in second grade. I took the twenty pages of my scrawling, sprawling script and sat down at the table with my Dad's typewriter in front of me. It was a production just to unfasten the cover and feed a sheet of paper, making sure it wasn't askew. The typing paper was thin and translucent. It had a regal clarity and crinkle to it. Nothing like the copybook pages and the crumbly yellow sheets we got at school that shredded when erased and tore when I bore down to get the right word. Typing paper promised to endure.

    Typed, my story reduced down to less than a page. I was properly deflated by my story's loss of stature and set formal writing aside except when commanded to by teacher prompt or assignment.

    My second novel came along more than twenty years later. I had learned the length lesson and my script, though scrawling had tightened up some since it's second grade dimensions. I filled several notebooks before I two-finger typed it out, this time on an electric typewriter that remembered a line or two. I wrote and rewrote and sent it off into the wide world. Agents, knowing market and sales potential, all declined, but a small press took it on.

    I read the letter from Windswept House a thousand times. I had made it. Published.

    I began novel number three immediately. I was on a roll. But then, but then. I hesitated. I looked outside myself for affirmation, confirmation. The book got a few reviews. I did a signing at a bookstore or three.

    At a writers’ conference I listened to other writers talk about their work. I heard academics talk about the weight of their work. Their's was serious stuff and though I had written a book and it was published I didn't have the guts, the nerve to stand up and call myself a writer. Royalty checks never amounted to more than a meal for two. Instead of writing for myself I wrote for work. I wrote assignments, reports, grants. You are a writer they told me and passed the projects my way. I wrote for others.

    And all the while, my third novel waited in literary limbo, that drafty space between idea and done .

    Until this year.

    This year I found the courage, the will, the sheer stanky determination to sit and write and write and write. I finally stood up and refused to be valued and defined by size or sales or prominence.

    My name is ben weinberg and I am a poet, an artist, a writer.
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