Writing takes far more than talent to be great.
One must also possess courage to be at the top of her craft.
At least that’s the takeaway from the essay “You Are the Second Person” by Kiese Laymon.
Laymon is identified as an essayist and novelist but a few paragraphs into “You Are the Second Person” and you begin to realize those aren’t just his job titles, he’s the embodiment of those skills.
Prior to reading his essay, the definition of hack eluded me. Now I know it identifies someone who eschews writing for expression and instead kowtows to a publisher for a check.
But as Laymon states “I’m a writer, and I write”, and publishers, publish “never the twain shall meet” 1 – but when they do, something magical occurs and a ‘new’ voice takes to the world stage.
Laymon is that voice. He’s a writer’s writer.
1- The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling
Kiese Laymon’s “Long Division”, a novel with time-travel, magic realism social commentary about race and celebrity at its core, is next on my Must Reads list.