March 18, 2019

The Writing Path

By Shawn Smucker

There is something I can count on now, when the lights are out and the house is still and the city outside my window is quieting. I know that if I get out of bed and creep through the shadows, walk down the stairs, and peer into the living room, my son will be hunched over his laptop, biting his lip, scowling to himself, cracking his fingers, and writing. He has done a thing that has been wonderful to witness: at an early age he fell in love with books, and then he fell in love with stories, and then, before I knew it, he turned into a writer.

There are worse things your son can turn into. For example, he could want to be a builder who constructs strip malls in the Amazon rain forest, or create those loud toys for children that don’t have an on-off switch. He could turn into the kind of person who puts the toilet paper roll on the wrong way or designs the kind of robots that will one day take over the world. But he is none of those things. He is a writer. And that is a good thing.


I mean, there are easier ways to live a life. “Get a job,” I could say, “a good paying job that has benefits and health insurance. Always insist on the health insurance.” Or I could list the benefits of submerging in corporate America, with its six-figure executive paychecks and winner-winner-chicken-dinner mentality. Success there seems so easy to measure.

The truth is, the writing path is one of heartbreak and insecurity. It is a winding, tortuous route that can leave you questioning not only yourself but every decision you have ever made in life. It is the path of rejection and disappointment, one that never seems to have a destination.

Writing always asks more of us. If you are going to write, you have to give more of yourself than you ever imagined more of yourself than you thought even existed.
Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at

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