Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 • 4 Comments on Story, Story, Story, I Made It Out of Clay
Writing is a strange animal. There are days when the words flow like water through my fingers and other days, like today, when words are like hard bits of dried clay that I’m trying to press together and they just won’t stick. For every new word I write, I delete three more. Ever had a day like that? Or a week? Or a month?
No worries, though. It is the nature of the beast. As I am often reminded, if writing were easy, everyone would be a writer. It’s bad enough that Joe the Plumber thinks he’s a writer. Reading Timothy Egan’s Typing Without a Clue in the New York Times made me nod in agreement and want to cry at the futility of this writing business. Joe is not a writer, but he will make more from his book—which I refuse to link to, but you can find on Amazon—than most writers will make in a lifetime of writing. The title of his book is, predictably, Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream. Me too, Joe. Me, too.
I have been coming to the same Starbucks for a year an a half—long enough for other regulars to approach me, ask me what I write and tell me, in all sincerity and honesty that “One day, I’m going to sit down and write…” Fill in the blank with a story, a book, a screenplay, an article, their memoir. I believe that they believe they will become the writer they know they are (a silver-haired woman once said those words to me, after sheepishly admitting the last thing she wrote was a paper in college over thirty years ago) but I also know that unless they either actually sit down and write instead of talking about writing or get lucky enough to meet a presidential candidate desperate to save his campaign or make a sex tape with a B list actor or survive some horrible tragedy and live to run off at the mouth about it, they will not become writers. The difference between them and me? I’m a writer who writes. The similarity between them and me? None of us will make much money at writing this year.
But I’m not bitter! Just because some people say “I’ve never heard of you” when I tell them my name and others ask when I’m going to write a “real book—you know, a hardcover,” I am—most days—content with my lowly status as a writer. (Erotica, romance, genre, or whatever adjective someone wants to tack in front of the word writer.) Maybe one of these days I’ll even write a real book—in hardcover—and then people will know my name. Just like Joe.