I have carried the idea of being a writer with me for more than 24 years. I wish I could say I have spent most of that time writing. I haven’t.
The problem with the idea of being a writer is that it leads me to the wrong goals. The idea of being a writer gave me the idea of writing a book. Writing a book was hard. I gave up. The idea of being a writer gave me the idea of writing stories. I started dozens but rarely finished them through. I have hundreds of pages stashed away in notebooks — beginnings, middles, riffs and improvisations. A mad jumble of glimpses and intuitions. Characters stillborn. Plots broken.
The idea of being a writer does not move me forward.
The idea of being a writer is a very poor thing to carry for so long. Much better to be a person who writes. Instead of writing a book or a story or this thing or that thing, I am ready to declare a new goal. I am writing to find out if I have talent for this thing that I enjoy and, if I have talent, to find out how far I can carry it.
The stories, the characters, the book are vehicles. They aren’t the thing itself. They are reflections of the thing. The thing is seeing how far I can carry this joy and fear I have inside of me. The thing is seeing how much of this life I have on the inside of me to be seen and real on the outside of me.
I am tired of pondering the idea of being a writer. I am working toward being a person who writes.