I can string a few words together, scribble lines in a sketchpad, assemble notes into a passable harmony — but rarely have I ever done so without a deadline jammed to my temple like a gun. Creation, for me, is agonizing. Slow. Fitful. Usually painful. And, all too often, not all that successful.
Words cannot describe my jealousy for my friends for whom creating is as natural and as essential as breathing. They churn out novel after novel; songs flow out of their heads and overflow from notebook after notebook. They simply cannot stop creating, and I love them for it. And I almost hate them for it.
No, my true skills are different. My gift (such as it is) is to dive into someone else’s deeply personal essay, someone’s scholarly monograph or rant or yawping stream of consciousness, and to sand it and hone it — and, on good days at least, to leave it sharpened and with none of my fingerprints left behind. My skill is to incubate the seed of someone else’s song, setting up supports and trellises that allow it to grow and blossom. My calling is to pick through the greatest art and the crudest Web comics in search of others’ visual ideas; it is to scour the Internet for snippets of someone else’s code that I can repurpose and sculpt into something beautiful. It is to take an old friend’s spark of a website and to strive to fan it into a flame — and to keep it burning far longer than any reason would dictate.
There is a word for this, for a person who is cursed to have few ideas of his own but a passion to mold those of others. It is “editor.”
It is who I am.