It is only two days away from the Kansas Writer’s Association’s Scene Conference. It’s time to think about what it means to be a writer.
I’ve known, ever since first grade when the teacher had us put those ten vocabulary words into ten sentences, that words were a source of fascination. This notwithstanding the extensive library my parents maintained. And, in grade school, high school, college (where my second major behind film-making was creative writing). Training to be a writer.
Going from a “portable” Smith Corona typewriter to a Brother Word Processor. Identifying the hardware and being able to use it. Falling behind the computer generation and then feverishly catching up. Reading and expanding my reading list. Immersion in the Boston Poetry Scene in the early 90′s. Classic Greek and Roman poets and a few Dadaists and Surrealists thrown in for good measure.
Trying to get back to screenwriting while making a home in Kansas. Turning my attention back to the start, back to fiction. Crime fiction. And then discovering Transgressive fiction. Allowing myself to dare to experiment and be different. Or be myself, as the case may be.
Membership in the KWA. Subscription to Writer’s Digest. Teaching myself all the computer skills necessary, still being behind the curve, but catching up slowly. Learning about blogging and websites and creating a platform. My wife got me Ariel Gore’s book “How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead” and other such books. They’re great. Great insight, fantastic suggestions, good feedback into becoming a better writer and getting published.
And then there is that shake of the head. I’m spitting distance from turning fifty, a married homeowner with a full-time job, and just as many personal responsibilities as artistic desires. I’m not young enough to drop everything and go on an extended book signing/reading tour of colleges in a five state area. I’m not old enough and retired to attend writing conferences on either coast and expand my social and professional networking circle.
I’ve got to go grocery shopping and make dinner and take out the trash and pay bills and show up to work often enough where they do not doubt my sincerity of working there and allow me to keep making a living so I can pay my bills.
The bottom line is that I take everything I read and hear and discuss about writing and becoming a published writer and having a career as a writer with a grain of salt. I’ve got to fit everything that is MY life into an intricate jigsaw puzzle, sometimes daily or weekly or monthly or yearly. Whatever happens to be the priority of the moment.
I squeeze in some reading during two fifteen minute breaks and a half hour lunch. I post a blog when the urge strikes. I check up on the social networking as much as my limited resources allow. And I write when there is some new story to tell or some old story to revise.
And my wife, who is also my editor and biggest supporter, knows that the door open is an invitation and the door closed is a sign of immersion. I try to remind myself of the definition of ‘discipline’ every time I am at my desk in my office and when the laptop is turned on.
I keep reading the sage wisdom of published writers and what worked for them, hoping to come across someone EXACTLY like me. Because anyone else is either older or younger or a different gender or in a different profession or a different state. I haven’t found that person, as you may have guessed. Thankfully, at least for my wife’s sake, there is no one exactly like me. Therefore I am charting my own path.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up the dishes from tonight’s dinner.