You can’t just be a writer

When I was a kid, I told everyone that I wanted to be a writer. At age 16 I told my best friend that I had no intentions of going to college, because writers don’t need to go to college.

I babysat for a neighbor who told me, “To be a great writer, you must read broadly.” Good advice, but the advice that I needed was “to be a writer, you must write.”

I didn’t write. I didn’t really write anything. The afore-mentioned best friend and I used to exchange long and ridiculously over-the-top notes between classes; fantasies that occupied the minds of two bored 16-year-old virgins with no prospects but a lot of ideas. That was the extent of my writing.

A mean girl in high school told me “You can’t just be a writer”. She didn’t like me, and I didn’t like her. She wore all black, went to see repertory films, pretended to read philosophy, and probably smoked clove cigarettes. Maybe she really was reading philosophy, I don’t really know.

She was right, though, as much as it annoys me to admit it. She had me pegged, and her comment went right to my heart. I never again told anyone that I wanted to be a writer – I pushed it out of my head. I went to college and studied English – I wouldn’t be a writer, but I could still be a reader.

That was all a long time ago. Now I work in marketing. I write copy and press releases. I write a lot of emails. I’ve discovered my process for writing is to wait until a deadline is looming, and then pull it out of myself like an exorcism. My process is imperfect, but I deliver.

Recently I was doing some freelance marketing work for a local business – mostly social media but also blogging. The owner of the business said to me one day, when we were outlining a plan, “you’re really more of a writer, aren’t you?” It had been such a long time since I had entertained that idea, but yes, maybe I am more of a writer.

I’ve never uttered this out loud, at least not since high school; but I am a good writer. When I take the time to do it, I can string words together clearly, even pleasantly. And certainly, better than when I’m saying them out loud. I just need to do it, and that’s why I’m here.

I’m not sure what will emerge from this project or on this page. I have no real plan, just thoughts seeking an outlet. Maybe nobody will ever read them, and that’s fine, though I admit that I hope to get maybe a read here and there. I move forward with no expectations.

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