“No Writer Long Remains Incognito”

(a writing prompt from Elements of Style)


Oh, but so many writers do remain incognito all their lives.
They start out that way and end up that way.
So busy saving face.
Playing it safe.
Afraid to show their true colors.

If they no longer remain incognito,
then everyone will know about their
sometimes uncharitable
but oh, so true thoughts.
Or many will not appreciate
Their ironic take on life in general.

And some certainly won’t see
the humor in a piece written about
that last family reunion
When Uncle did that embarrassing thing
For the umpteenth time.

Then too, Aunt will know she’s that irascible,
Cantankerous neighbor in your novel.
Your brother will never speak to you
If he sees your essay on tips
for getting along with a problem sibling.

Or, like when your sister read your essay
about an aspect of foster care.
There’s clear disagreement.
When she realizes she can’t change minds,
She counters grimly with:
“You are so cold.”
No more sharing about work, I see.

Of course, it’s those who remain incognito
who end up not being read,
not getting published.
So far, that’s me.
No wonder I can’t find my voice.
I’m afraid of what it will say.




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