Monday, February 18, 2013

Being Means Doing

It took me years to call myself a writer.

Now I can use the term in public--without that weird clog in my throat I used to get trying to make the words come out--but I'm still a fraud. I say, "I'm a writer."

But it isn't true. A writer, above all, writes. Notice the present tense. Better yet, make it present progressive: A writer is writing. Currently. Right now. Putting words on a page, revising, creating worlds and characters, designing suspenseful and meaningful plots, enjoying the Lego-like building and destruction that children enjoy.

A writer is planning query letters. Reading scenes aloud to hear the dialogue. Arranging words in their best order for poetry. Perhaps even finding a rhyme or two (though that's rarely me).

I have a friend who is a painter. She told me, "I try to make painting a priority--try to spend at least three days a week painting."

I asked her, "You get three days a week in? That's impressive."

She frowned at me, thought a bit, and said, "No, I get about one day every two weeks." Yet she is far more of a painter than I am a writer.

I do write. A little. I am writing this blog entry. I write a poem here or there. But mostly I just grade essays. Mostly I do laundry and dishes. Mostly I write business letters for my other jobs, assess journals for my classes, prep for teaching. Clean my house.

But I don't write. If I have a few minutes of free time, I go play piano. Hell, I even paint more than I write. I go to play rehearsal. I watch TV, even if I hate everything I watch. I fill my hours with tasks I dislike, instead of pulling back, taking days here and there just to write.

I still can't figure out why I do it, but I do it nonetheless. And until I start writing again, I'm not a writer.

Maybe someday I will be.

1 comment:

  1. In that sense, I haven't been a writer in some time.