Wednesday, December 8, 2010

You Should Be A Writer

We've got a new girl in the office. She's nice enough and she listens as I prattle on endlessly and quite possibly most importantly, she's a good cook who sometimes brings leftovers. In any case, the other day she brought up ghosts, which as you may remember from my ghost stories posts, I believe are real. But, you know, there are things I don't lead with. If I've just met you in person, I'm probably not going to tell you that I believe in ghosts, am unhealthily obsessed with Charles Manson or think that fried pickles taste like magic wrapped in happiness.

But, there we were and what do you say when someone asks you point blank if you believe in ghosts? If you're me, you say Yes and then you frantically start trying to defend yourself by telling every ghost story in your repertoire.

At the end of this deluge of creepiness and vague "proof," she said those frightening, horrible, magical, wonderful four words that simultaneously make me glow and tremble in fear, "You should be a writer." Which is a wonderful compliment. It's sort of like saying, "You are really wonderful storyteller," or possibly, "You talk way too much it would more manageable in print where I could ignore it." But I choose to take it as a compliment.

In any case, I never know what to say to that, so I said what I usually say, "Well, I do write a blog and I write short stories from time to time."

"No," she responded, "I mean you should be a real writer and get published."

And there it is. "A real writer."

And I understand what she means. Although I'm sitting here right now bristling with "Real writer, my lily white asphodel," I still don't ever feel like a "real" writer. I feel like a real writer writes more often and gets published by a bunch of people deciding it's valid and good, rather than by hitting a button at the bottom of the screen that says "Publish."

Brynna loves art. The way I love writing, she loves art. And because I know what it's like to grow up with that kind of love, imagining yourself living in a cardboard box while you try to make your dream pay the bills and fearing losing it while you try to find just a few minutes a day to do what you love the most, I have a mantra that I repeat with her over and over.

"What's an artist?" I ask.

"A person who creates art," she dutifully answers.

"So, you are an artist right now and as long as you continue to create art, you'll be an artist, right?"


And that applies to writers too, I think. A writer is a person who writes. And I'm writing, right now, I'm pounding out a blog post and hoping this is done before Brynna is ready for me to read to her. And I'm hoping that I have ten minutes or so before bed to write that description that I couldn't get the other day.

If I never get published, I'll still be a writer, because I will still write. On the other hand, being a writer without an audience is a little bit like that old tree falling in the woods bit. If you write something and have no audience to read it, did you make a difference?

If it's an audience that makes a writer and most of my fiction is hanging on out harddrives and in notebooks, then you guys are what separates me from oblivion. And I appreciate that.

Thank you for making me a writer.


Mimi - SleeplessInKL said...

But you DO write beautifully, Jessi :)

Suze said...

You're a wonderful writer. I love this blog! And I hope that someday you DO write stuff that gets published, but you're right. As long as you're writing, you're a writer.