“If you wrote something a while back, but haven’t written anything lately, you’re not a writer. You’re someone who has written.”
I heard someone say this online recently. I thought it was odd that this unfamiliar dude would call me out personally in front of everyone like that. Typical anonymous internet sources, always being jerks.
He had a point, though. Writing is like playing a sport. I used to play football, many decades ago when I was young and my thick skull could take the trauma. But to call myself a football player today would be a massive stretch, and let’s face it: my 46-year-old groin isn’t that flexible. It’d be more accurate to say I have played football, in the present perfect tense. I know that’s the present perfect tense because, as one who has written, I have studied the intricacies of English grammar. And, accordingly, I have been fun at parties. Even with my inflexible, aging groin.
I want to be more than merely someone who has written. And, to be fair, I have written a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m “prolific,” because I’ll leave that for the graduate students writing about my body of work in 2076. But I’ve absolutely put more words on more pages than the average guy. If I stop now, I’m slightly more than “someone who has written.” You could at least add the modifier “a lot” to the end of that sentence.
A writer, though, is someone who engages in writing. “Engages” must be in the present tense.
That part is relatively easy. I love to write. I enjoy playing with words, skirting the rules of grammar and convention. I dig making people think and laugh. I relish using synonyms to avoid repetitive use of words such as “love.”
The only thing that stands in my way is my own fucked-up psyche, which is actively, loudly, and aggressively telling me it’s all pointless. All day, every day.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to drown that part of my psyche out. I’ve realized you don’t have to feel like doing things to do them. That seems obvious, but to an old rule-skirter such as myself, it took a few decades of adulthood to fully understand it.
Still, it’s especially hard when those activities you don’t feel like doing today are coincidentally not actually required by anyone. To wit, no one gives a shit if I write or not. It’s not my job. You might wish I’d continue, just like I wish you’d keep on [crocheting, gardening, playing chess, whatever].
But you’re not letting me down if you opt to put down knitting needles for a year or two. I’m not paying you to crochet.
Therein lies my next challenge.
I need to have a reason—other than my personal image or pride or avoidance of actual responsibility—to write every day. I want extrinsic pressure to get my writing done. I don’t want to squeeze writing in between the stuff that earns me money.
I want writing to be my job.
And I have no fucking idea how to make that happen.
Until I figure it out, my goal is to ignore the lack of financial encouragement and avoid being merely someone who has written. Hey, I just wrote this, so it must be working!
Want to read more right now? Try A Billionaire And A Gay Prostitute Walk Into The Public Square. Or Trade Offer: You Get One Deadly Virus, I Get One Rent Freeze. Or how about The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Hunter Biden.