When it is truly time
and if you have been chosen it will do it by
itself and keep doing it
until you die or it dies in you
there is no other way
and there never was ~Bukowski
(Read the rest of it here).
So you want to be a writer. Allow me to snicker for a second. Not at you. At what you think of writing and the grimy REALITY of writing professionally, commercially or even creatively.
Many people want to be writers because of that glorious moment when they’ll trumpet to their parents, their friends or to whomever:
“I am a writer.”
You’ll be awash in admiration. You get to be the person behind the table at a book signing, the center of attention surrounded by a crowd wearing skinny ties and vanity glasses and people who sip glasses of red wine, lamenting on the latest best seller.
That moment is rare. And I will probably never experience it.
But I don’t write for that moment.
I write for the moment in the middle of the night, when something in me stirs – an idea. When it feels as if the brain is plugged directly into my imagination and I get the experience down beautifully. When I am not thinking, when I am half-lucid and my fingers are flying.
I can sit there for hours this way.
But Writers Never Feel Like Writers
You picture the writing life as something like this. A fancy literary event with cocktails. But most of the time I work alone in sweats.
Even writers with a capital W probably don’t feel like they can call themselves writers. I say probably because I am a writer with a lowercase “W”.
I have had one poem published in a chapbook (and subsequentally, a community newspaper) and a whole lotta paragraphs published in a travel guide, and a bunch of other blogs, newspaper articles, etc. I even won an award for an article I wrote on bees of all things.
I still hesitate when that damn What Do You Do? question comes up. I decided I am going to start calling myself a carpenter. It’s artistic, Jesus did it, and women carpenters are pretty rare. And that’s cool.
Even with a six-year writing career and minor accomplishments, I still feel like a fraud. Like I can’t possibly belong to the same art form as Bishop and Vonnegut and Dave Eggers. I don’t want people to assume that by calling myself a writer I think am at that level. Continue reading →