How often have you heard beginner writers say “Oh, I couldn’t call myself a writer!” as if a writer could only be a white middle aged man who smokes a pipe or drives across the country while ingesting mushrooms? Do you dream of writing but think somehow that it can never be done (Kerry, honey, I’m talking about you)?
I cry bullshit. A writer is someone who grabs a tiny bit of time from work and life and writes. She stares at the page and cries. She writes nothing but crap for days and days until she suddenly writes something she likes. It’s not a club. It’s not a mystical state of being. It’s showing up.
And the poets. Oh the poets. People hated poetry in high school (you had to read Alexander Pope, no wonder you hate it!). Other writers consider you as another being, possibly another species, because they can’t imagine composing a scene in 60 words. They think you are somehow a purer writer than they are. Bullshit. You should see how bad my plots are.
People think they can only write poems when the muse strikes them. Bullshit. Grad school taught me, if nothing else, that you can pull a decent poem out of your ass no matter what your mood if you try hard enough. It’s not that I sit there and talk to angels. Nope. I practice writing. I tried to write every morning. Sometimes I was successful, other times I failed. But then when I needed to write a poem for workshop that was oh due tomorrow, the practice paid off. I could write something that I only hated a little.
There are always a million reasons not to write. Your house is a mess; your kids are demanding; your wife wants you to cook her dinner. Do it anyway. Tillie Olson (or was it Lucille Clifton?) wrote short pieces because it was all she could remember while she was at her ironing board. As Andy Ihnatko says writing looks like it should be easy and effortless, but don’t let that fool you, it never is.
So, my friends, don’t let some stupid romantic ideals keep you from writing. Consider it a job, a responsibility, a profession. You generally don’t usually skip work because you have to wash your dishes do you?
*(Don’t even bother to tell me that my title is grammatically incorrect.)