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How to Listen to a Rambling Second Person Reading by a Fellow Writer at River Pretty

By J.T. Robertson

First, realize you are you. This will take you by surprise, since in second person you naturally expect “you” to actually mean me, or a totally separate character created subtly throughout the piece. Take a moment to wonder why you’re here, listening to me in the first place.

You want to write, you love the idea of ideas impregnating the page through ink drying on paper. Sometimes the words flow, sometimes they don’t, but you trudge on anyway, your fingers skipping frantically over the keys or waltzing a pen across the page like Fred Astaire, tenderly embracing a candy-red dirt devil. Laugh if you remember the commercial that refers to. If not, smile anyway, because you’re kind, and know I’m bound to be somewhat nervous.

Look at the rafters for no discernible reason.

Next, glance at the other writers around you and wonder who will be published while you aren’t, who will read after you, or before, or just silently regret not letting yourself sign up. Listen to the roar of the river, and imagine having this all the time, the comradery, the common love of words cunningly crafted, which complete strangers are more than willing to tell you will never pay the bills.

 Keep telling yourself you don’t care what they say because this is your passion, but secretly dream of winning the writer’s lottery against all odds: getting in the New Yorker, being awarded a Pulitzer, and having pretty people play the darlings you didn’t kill in the film adaptation of your masterwork. Imagine yourself as popular as King, as rich as Rowling, or as cantankerous as Franzen.

Wonder how much longer I’m going to drone on, and why I didn’t read something less gimmicky. Wish I’d included more uses of the term “peckerwood.”  Figure by the tone in my voice that I’m almost finished.

Glance at the rafters again, and find yourself unable to discern any good reason to be scrutinizing the rafters.

Take a moment to really look at the faces around you. Watch them generously listening, just like you. Ponder how we’re all the same and yet so different. Love that fact. Embrace it and use it to connect, and grow. Then finally, realize that in some ways I’m you, and smile quietly as you realize that in some ways you’re me, too.