Day One – Declaration. So I’m doing this 15 Habits of a Great Writer Challenge. Here’s day one:
Declare you’re a writer.
Not just to your wall or computer or notebook, but to an actual person or institution.
OK, cool. I am a writer. And everyone knows it. Everyone in my life knows it, my business cards say it. I went to a comedy workshop last night and said it too, even though nothing I said onstage was funny. That’s OK; I’m still a writer.
I blogged regularly up until about three years ago, when I quietly bowed out one day. It just wasn’t fun anymore. I found that I would spend hours crafting one blog post. I was traveling in South America with the love of my life and all it seemed I wanted to do was while away the hours in crappy internet cafes, working on blog posts, deconstructing some insignificant thing we’d done the day before, when there’d be real life going on in the streets – pigs, protests, parades, you name it. I couldn’t keep up. I was missing out. I was no longer in the moment. I was caught up in hoping people would read my work and waiting for their accolades. I was no longer writing for myself or for the sheer joy of it. This gift had become a burden of sorts and I just couldn’t shake it. So I stopped. For a long time. For three years.
Then all kinds of stuff happened – I came back to LA completely broke, worked for another crazy bitch in the film industry, got sick of that and was unemployed for a long stint. The bright spot was getting a great office job with short hours and kind people. That’s when other parts of life started spiraling down hill a little bit: I did some serious damage to some hip muscles while roller skating, the state of Illinois wanted to take guardianship of my mother, a friend died, my grandma got sick and then died. Not being able to exercise because of my injury, and depressed, I slept a lot and gained weight. I was spiraling down. And frankly, I’m glad I had the time to deal with all of that without pressuring myself to blog about it. Blech!
But every day, every single day without fail, that voice in my head said, “I am a writer. I am a writer!” I’d pound out the payroll and accounts payable and the voice kept going, “This is not permanent. You cannot keep me here. I am a writer, bitch!!” Indeed.
I started doing storytelling shows a year or so ago. Most of my peers are very funny people. I do not consider myself to be funny. Trying to be funny is the one sure way to guarantee that you’ll fuck it up. But I do get laughs – especially when I am just being myself. Often that is the hardest thing to do.
I went to a storytelling show tonight in my neighborhood. There was a dude at a huge table all alone. I sat down. “Ever been to this show tonight?” I said.
“How’d you hear about it?” I asked.
“Well, I’m trying to be a writer,” he said.
“Nope,” I said. “You already are. Just say it. I’ll help you – I’ll start. Hi, I’m Anna – I’m a writer!”
I am a writer. And I still pound out payroll and accounts payable too, for the same company with incredibly nice co-workers and gloriously short hours. But I. Am. A. Writer. No mistake. And this is my gift, this compulsion to write words and I will honor it every day for the rest of my life. Whether anyone validates my words or not no longer matters to me. I’m a writer; that’s enough. I don’t have to be the best or the funniest or the most erudite.
It’s just who I am. I am a writer, bitches!