Write Before Thinking

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Are you a writer?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a fighter pilot or a baseball player, however those dreams were nixed by crappy vision and the realization that baseball was one of the most boring sports ever invented. No worries, I told myself, I’ll just be a writer. After all, writers are cool and famous and don’t have bosses. They get movie deals, travel all over the place and get to do what they want when they want.

Yep, being a writer would be pretty damn sweet. At least I hope it is because being an aspiring writer just plain sucks.

Aspiring writer. The term itself is ridiculous. May as well admit you’re a hopeless dreamer clinging to the maligned and narcissistic notion that someday you’ll produce a piece of work that people would actually pay for. Really, how many of us who call ourselves aspiring writers actually have the talent and perseverance to write a book that will get published (self-publishing doesn’t count)? According to New York Times contributor and author Joseph Epstein, not too many of us.

He’s absolutely right. Far too many of us believe that we have it in ourselves to write a book. More than that, far too many of us believe that writing a book can’t be that difficult. And while that may be true for the chosen few, for everyone else the book writing process is an exercise in frustration, depression, self-doubt, and patience.

When I started writing Wreck My Life back in 2006 (back then I was calling it Trailer Trash) I naively thought I’d have the thing knocked out within the year and published within two. Yeah right. I’m just now working through my third draft. Between then and now I have moved three times, got married, changed jobs, and participated in two writing workshops. I’ve also experienced the highs of finishing the first draft and the lows of realizing it sucked. I’ve called myself a hack and most of what I’ve written has ended up being edited beyond recognition. Ever time I sit down to write I question whether or not I really have the talent or ability to even be a writer. Many times the answer is no.

But I still want to be a writer.

There are no guarantees I’ll ever realize this dream. No assurances that I’ll ever get published. Yet it is a dream I’ll always cling to. Is it stupidity or stubbornness? Is it the hope of fame and fortune or the vain notion that what I have to say is worth reading? Of course, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say yes to all of the above (maybe not to the stupidity). But that being said, writing is about so much more than that. It’s freedom, catharsis, and exhilaration. It’s self-discovery and exploration. More importantly, it’s something I have to do. Because as depressed and pissed off as writing makes me, it also makes me incredibly happy.

Maybe you understand.

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Filed under: Trailer Trash, Why I Write, , , , , ,

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