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Thursday, October 11, 2007

100, I Mean 39 Things About Being a Writer -- a work in progress

1) Nobody will believe it's your real job. They will always ask you what else you do.

2) You will be late for everything in your life. Your wedding, your dentist appointment, your date. Odds are you were even born late.

3) Your life will be filled with little scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and receipts covered with notes about story ideas, plot lines, and phone numbers for people you know you met but can't remember why you wanted to call.

4) 90% of the people you'll meet at any given party either have a manuscript they want you to read or have an idea for a book they want to tell you all about. In detail. Right down to the punctuation.

5) You will laugh at the question on the credit application that asks for all your jobs and supervisors for the past five years. Because you haven't had a real job or G-d forbid a supervisor since that summer in college when you got fired for writing instead of waiting tables.

6) The world is your office. Park bench, cafe table. train or airplane. It's all good.

7) Inspiration can come from anywhere. An overheard conversation, a commercial, a dog walking by, or the color of the sky.

8) Just be sure you have plenty of little pieces of paper to write the ideas down. (See #3 above)

9) Teachers will be extra tough on your kids' grammar and spelling at school. The fact that their mother and/or father is a writer will be pointed out to them at least once a month.

10) Books will take over your home.

11) And only guests will notice

12) Their comments will baffle you. Doesn't everyone have twenty or thirty books on their bedside table?

13) After all, there's no room left on the dresser. Or the back of the toilet.

14) There is no such thing as a casual comment. You can't help but see the meaning in every word.

15) If you are a woman, men will fear you. If you are a man, women will adore you. Not fair -- Dorothy Parker would get it.

16) Your friends will expect you to run errands, watch their kids, or walk their dog, because you "don't have to go to work."

17) Unless you're a staff writer, you will never have a retirement party, get a promotion, or receive an employee of the month award.

18) You will also never have to sit through a departmental meeting, worry about a layoff, or have to spend half your life commuting.

19) Sounds like a fair trade to me.

20) As you gain experience, deadlines lose their importance. Just because someone else wants to do something on a certain day, doesn't mean you will.

21) You will occasionally wonder what it's like to just participate in a conversation without mentally jotting down interesting names, unusual mannerisms, or a particularly colorful description.

22) Then you will have one of your characters wonder what it's like to participate in a conversation without noticing .... and you'll use the things you were trying not to notice.

23) Your computer will be the first thing you pack for any trip. Or if you are one of the few holdouts, your supply of notebooks and pens.

24) There are some days when you can write anything EXCEPT what you need to write.

25) And other days when you can write nothing more than a grocery list

26) You cannot control what your characters do or say. You can try, but once you create them, they have minds of their own!

27) And your stories will be all the better for it.

28) Everything is interesting. Seriously.

29) Lots of people will find this fascination with everything annoying.

30) And you will never be able to understand why.

32) You never really have to grow up because you can find a way to make everything into play time!

33) That too will annoy a lot of people.

34) Make sure your friends are not those people.

35) You will critique the verses on greeting cards.

36) Then go home and write your own. After all, did they REALLY think those two words were a rhyme???

37) A list like this will be really hard to complete because every line inspires you to write something else not related to the list.

38) You'll remember three hours later that you were in the middle of the list.

39) Then jot it down on a piece of paper to write later.

40) too busy writing to come up with more


Barimalch said...

Thank you for the great article because my is opened.

Barimalch said...

oops my eyes are opened

Heather said...

If I may ask, do you have an MFA in Creative Writing? Is one necessary?
And how did you find an agent? Was it really all the queries? The rejections are killing me!