A Phoenix

I got interviewed for a podcast for my job last month.

It was very exciting. I’ve been working as an apprentice scriptwriter for sixteen months now, and they figured it was probably time to ask me some questions. You know, get the scoop about what it’s really like to be a writer for an international radio show. We talked about the hard stuff. The tough topics. What it takes to be a writer in a fast-paced, highly competitive industry.

Not to spoil the interview, but I got asked what kind of magical creature I would be if I was a magical creature.

I was shook. They didn’t even warn me that was coming. I had to think on my feet.

Or, you know, in my closet, since I was sitting with a microphone, two computers, and my phone in my closet during the interview. With a sheet draped over my head.

Because sound quality is essential, y’all.

Essential.

Frankly, I thought it was a brilliant question, but since I was caught off-guard and trying to keep my phone from disconnecting from the internet and the sheet from smothering me all at the same time, I answered really fast. Way too fast, as it turned out, to actually think about why I picked what I did.

I said a phoenix, by the way. In case you were wondering. Because when asked, who wouldn’t choose to be a mythical bird who bursts into flames at the end of its lifecycle and rises again from the ashes of its own destruction like a glorious representation of new life and continuing hope?

Plus, you get to fly and stuff. And have orange and red and yellow feathers, which are all the colors that I passionately love and cannot wear because of my skin tone. They wash me out. It’s bad.

Know your skin tones, people. Pick the right colors.

But after the interview was over and I crawled out from under my sheet like some kind of tiny gremlin emerging from its fabric lair, I took a little time to think about my choice. Because let’s be real, sometimes your quickest, tip-of-the-tongue, no-time-to-think answers are the most honest. And this one was definitely honest. A kind of deep, soul-touching honest that really struck me way too late for it to be an interesting and intellectual part of my interview.

Rats, right?

So I’m sharing it here instead. Because I am a phoenix. Every writer is. It’s our bread and butter, our rite of passage. Only a phoenix could survive as a writer. Because writing is all about burning to the ground. I’ve seen so many ideas go up in flames in the last year. Ideas, outlines, even scripts. The amount of criticism I take on a weekly—or even a daily—basis would have paralyzed me when I was a teenager. I would have dropped everything and given up.

But I am a phoenix. I watch my stories—and my ego—go up in smoke again and again . . . and again.

And like the phoenix, I rise from the ashes and begin again.

Every writer goes through the flames. You might say it’s an occupational hazard. The first time, the fifth time, even the hundredth time, it’s scary and painful and not what we wanted to do that particular day.

But it won’t stop us. We’ve done this before. We’ll do it again.

Out of the ashes will always come our best work yet.

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