“Hi, my name is James La Salandra, and I’m a writer.” It sounds unmistakably like a support group introduction, and to be honest the comparison is, for the most part, quite apt. I know that few people manage to avoid the pitfall of bringing their work home with them, but I think it safe to say that a cashier, once home, manages to avoid ringing people out at the register. For a number of vocations, however—writing, of course, among them—there doesn’t seem to be a genuine end to the work day. If, in fact, one can call it work. To be sure, there’s always an amount of effort—sometimes grueling—involved in the writing process, but love of the craft is usually sufficient grounds for dismissing whatever toll one’s work may take. The point, as I’m fond of noting, is that were I to choose a different path, I would be no less a writer. I could wait tables, work in retail, become a janitor—I couldn’t claim to have quit being a writer. I’d just be a writer who happened to make a living mopping floors.
Many writers understand this fact quite easily, as few find themselves in a position to dedicate themselves solely to their writing without the proverbial “day job” to keep the lights on. It is by a rare, benevolent twist of fate that I am capable of devoting nearly 100% of my waking time to the writing life. Regardless of livelihood and circumstance, each of us is possessed of (and by) the indefatigable writer’s spirit: the mind, always probing in hopes of stumbling upon our next story; the eye, keenly observing and taking note of myriad details and minutiae; the voice, always marveling at the wonders of language, conceiving and practicing various styles, vocabularies, and rhythms. For most of us, there’s simply no “off switch” for such faculties, only the choice between focusing them and allowing them to run on autopilot. There’s plenty of room for debate on whether we choose to write, or simply choose to capitulate to the compulsion to do so. Either way, regardless of whatever one may be doing with one’s time, even when asleep, a writer is still a writer.
Though I now live my life according to the persistent whims of my calling, it wasn’t always so. For the longest time, I fancied myself a musician, and while I did have a small amount of talent for it, I eventually came to the conclusion that my ambitions far exceeded my abilities. It was only a few years ago that I began humoring the suggestion that I apply myself to wordcraft; even now, when asked “What do you do?” I still hesitate perceptibly before answering. However, at a recent dinner engagement, a friend whom I hadn’t seen in over a decade balked at my reluctance, as well as my claim to have ever thought myself to be anything else. To her, my becoming a writer had always been a foregone conclusion. It didn’t take the entire meal for me to come around to her point of view.
I don’t begrudge myself the fact that it took over ten years of my adult life for me to have reached this point; the meandering path taught me a great many things about myself and about life, no doubt fodder for the many projects to come. Friends and family have encouraged me a thousand times over, opportunities to see my work published on line have arisen and been seized, and so it is that I find myself now fully embarking upon what I hope will be a respectable career, whatever form it may take. For the time being, I’m busying myself with the effort to become a capable freelance writer, as I’ve an eye on supplementing—and one day replacing—my current means of support. I’ve been expanding my web presence via social media, and now I’ve got this website to my credit. In addition to collecting my work elsewhere on the web, I intend for the Scholar’s Fane to be a place in which to explore the many facets of the craft, share various sources of inspiration, connect with working professionals and fellow aspirants, and expound upon both the challenges and benefits of a life dedicated to self-education for the sake of the creation and enjoyment of literature.