Friday, October 2, 2009

A Reality Show for Writers?

Writers write. This was my line when I taught middle school English. My 7th grade students had SSW. (Sit down, shut-up, and write!) On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we started our day by writing. I'd give a prompt. Maybe a question. Maybe a story start that they had to finish. Maybe a picture. The requirement was to write and to not stop to think about what to write. This was extremely hard for some, but the point is that if you never actually sit down and write, you aren't really a writer. If you spend all your time thinking, then maybe you are a thinker. If writers write, then thinkers think.

The great thing about this belief is that it is true. The more you write...the more you want to write. Four years ago I began writing a humor column. At first I was nervous about supplying the paper with new, original columns each month. What if I froze? What if I ran out of ideas? What if I was only good for about a year's worth of writings, and then all my creative thinking was spent?

I did it. I do it. The ideas keep coming. I am finally not afraid anymore.

Then I feared the blog. Was it real? Was it really writing? I wanted to be legit. I'm not sure what the catalyst was for starting this blog, but I finally did it. And, I discovered that I like it. I'm constantly blogging: in the car, before I fall asleep at night, on walks, working in the garden, cooking, cleaning, and folding laundry. These are all great spots to begin the writing process for me. My writing always begins in my mind, but then it always makes it to the page....or just the best ones. (Of course, I am the judge of that.)

When I was eight I decided I would be the youngest, published writer ever. I sat down on the 70's rag rug and began to type my first novel. Funny, it didn't quite work out that way. But the desire was there and still is.

I was always a bit frustrated by my creative outlet. Musicians and singers always had outlets. They could always get a gig at a coffee shop. Crafty types could make their friends gifts, sell things at fairs etc. They had outlets, but writers? Unless you could break into the publishing world, your art was a silent one only read by a select few. (Like a spouse.)

Then if you shared that your hobby was writing people always asked, "Oh, are you published?"

"No. I just enjoy it."

Dead silence.

There are reality shows for actors, designers, directors, entrepreneurs, cooks, singers etc. You don't see any reality shows for writers. (I've often imagined what this would be like, and it cracks me up!)

When my oldest was starting to drink milk, we discovered that he had a milk intolerance, and so we had to buy raw goat's milk. The farmer was an editor for Simeon and Schuster. I asked him once if he was a writer.

"Yes. Not an author, but a writer. There is a huge difference. Actually, many authors aren't writers."

That gave me much to think about, and I liked it. It gave me permission to tell people that I write, and that I like it. I am a writer. (What a scary thing to utter.)

And so I write. Writer's write. That is what I do. It is my outlet. It gives my mind what it needs. My floors may be covered in toys and crumbs. My laundry may need to be folded. I probably should organize that junk drawer. And I will, but for now, for these brief moments, I am letting myself write.

(I wrote a young adult novel about four years ago. I have kept several hard copies and final drafts on my computer etc., but I decided it was time to recycle some of the rough drafts. This picture is a pile of that endeavor.)

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