Ways of Being a Writer
The idyllic writing life. You know what I mean. You live in a loft, and write all day, sipping various stimulants. Your lunch is instagramable and healthy. You have a dog at your feet, or a cat on your lap. You write all day until you're happily exhausted and your hair is tousled and your clothes are rumpled, but still manage to stroll to a nearby cafe/bar in the evening to meet up with like minded people for heady and intellectual discussions. You’re full of fruitful anguish, you’re full of beautiful sorrow, you live for your art. You spend hours looking at the exquisite view from your window. When you sit outside, it’s on a bench that the local artisan gifted you because of their admiration for your work. Some afternoons you work on your correspondence. You write to your editor and publisher and your fans and of course to your writer friends who live in the South of France and other remote locales. I could go on. But this is a fantasy.
Although, if you happen to be a writer who lives this kind of life, feel free to leave a comment and contradict me. I would be over the moon to know that such a human exists.
There are so many ways of being a writer. You might be a writer living the idyllic writing life. I hope you are. But you might be a writer who is barely scraping out a sentence every week. You might be a writer who pours out whatever comes every Tuesday afternoon between 10 and 3 when you have childcare. You might be a writer who freelances and spends so much time writing words for someone else, or editing the work of others, that your own work becomes rather dreamlike. You might be a writer who works full-time and writes notes on your phone on the morning bus ride. You might be a writer who teaches for 8 months and then hopes to write for four months in the summer but most of it is eaten up by prep work for the next year, recovering from the gruelling schedule of teaching, and doing all the things you let go during the term, so that your four months becomes 3 weeks. You might be a writer who cuts their own hair and wears the same pair of pants for 4 years and clips coupons and cuts other weird corners so that you can buy time to write. You might be a single writer or a married writer or a writer whose relationship is complicated. You might be a writer who knows many other writers or you may know very few. You might be a reclusive writer who never gives readings and who eschews public performances of all sorts. You might be a very gregarious writer who looks for opportunities to perform and read and be public and who goes on tours and lives for festivals. You might be a writer who sometimes gives a reading now and again but prefers to stay at home where it’s cozy. You might be filled with anxiety just thinking about the public side of writing, or you might think hey no big deal. You might be a writer eating 3 day old leftover pizza heated up in the microwave. You might be a writer on their 7th cup of tea or coffee. You might be a writer who writes at the kitchen table at 2 in the morning. You might be a writer who uses their holiday time to go on a writing retreat and then sits there blocked and inwardly screaming. You might be a writer whose day job is so draining that when you get home in the evenings you sit for months looking at the blank page just so you can feel like a writer. You might be a writer with small children who watch more videos than you’d like because you need just a little time to write. You might be a writer with an idea you’re very passionate about or you might be a writer who is searching for that next great subject. You might be a writer with a wonderful idea but you just discovered 10 other writers with the same idea who wrote a book about it already. You might be a writer who feels like they’ll never write again. Or you might be in the throes of a brilliant project. You might think you’re all washed up or you might think the flow will never stop. You might be a write who wrote one really beautiful book and 10 years has passed and you’re giving up hope. You might be a writer who writes all the time and on any surface. You write on restaurant napkins and on drink coasters and on grocery store bills and in the margins of other peoples’ books. You fill up journals and diaries and reams of looseleaf paper. You might be a writer who can’t yet allow calling yourself a writer or a writer who says the word proudly, or you might be a writer who thinks it’s something you need to earn before you call yourself writer. You might be a writer who bought a new car with your royalties or a writer who took yourself out to breakfast with your royalties.
Have I missed anyone? Of course I have. This is because there are so many ways to be a writer and you’re all writers. And one nice thing about writers is that they have the power to lift up other writers and recognize that we’re all in this together. Being a writer, in my humble opinion, is better than not being a writer, especially if that thing you want to be is a writer.