You Are Not A Writer

You are not a writer till you’ve spent ten thousand hours perfecting your craft. Till you’ve drunk too much and thrown it all up on a page. You can’t be a writer till you’ve figured out one essential truth, the whole truth, till you’re ready to tell the truth.  It’s impossible to be a writer without a BA, a MFA, and a passport. You’re not a writer until you have the right pen, the right computer, the right software and the right animal to sit at your feet while you write.

You aren’t a writer until you have a book deal for a novel. You’re not a real writer till your book is sitting in a brick and motor store. You’re not a writer until you get offered a three book deal, and you’re published by the top three book publishers.

You’re not a writer till you’ve got a check to cash, crumpled in your pocket and slopped off to the bank. You’re not a real writer till you’ve paid a bill with your writing, forget the twenty you got from that tiny magazine. You’re not a writer till you paid a utility bill with the money you earned from those arranged letters, and not the summer gas bill either. You need to pay a big bill with your writing, a bill that left unpaid would put you in prison. You’re not a writer until you’ve bought a donkey from the side of the road with your writing, and used that donkey to carry groceries from the market to your house.

You’re not a writer till at least fifty percent of your income comes from your written work. You’re not a writer till you are living entirely off of your written work, each scrap of bread and pat of butter paid for in words. You’re not a writer until the people you live with have given up on working because it’s all so very pointless now. You’re not a writer till you’ve used a check from your publisher to pay for a gravestone.

You aren’t a true writer until someone has bought your book just to see what all of the fuss is about. You’re not a writer until someone has bought your book because they have invited some very smart people over for a cocktail party, and they want those people to see how clever they are to have your book on their shelf.  You’re not a writer till people are carrying around your book on the streets of New York, Paris and Milan as a fashion accessory. You’re not a writer until your book is whispered to engorge members between lovers.

You’re not a writer until a stranger on the street recognizes you as an author. You’re not a writer until your books are flying off shelves, literally flying, flapping their pages and lifting themselves up to the clouds, chased by angry booksellers, only to fall in a bookstorm, soggy pages plummeting to earth and clogging library drains.

You’re not a writer till you are dead and your words are still remembered. You’re not a a writer until angry schoolchildren are forced to read and examine the meaning of your work, interpreting things you never intended, analyzing the time that you lived for clues as to your meaning, your real meaning, the one you didn’t even know.

You’re not  a writer until civilization falls and the scattered pieces of your words are found, crudely carved on stone fragments by the last woman, who lost everything but found your words worth remembering. You aren’t a writer, not really, till a rising civilization of raccoon people, attempting to learn from our sins, deciphers this stone, a puzzle of shapes with obtuse meaning. They do not have writers among them, but artists who craft stories of feeling in the rough and smooth patterns of clay, communicating emotions though the sensitive paws of their five fingered hands.

You are a writer when you write.

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