I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember (OK, the older I get, the shorter THAT time seems to be!). When I was in high school, I even earned an award for Creative Writing and an essay contest that won me a trip to Washington, DC. My college Creative Writing teacher thought I was pretty good. I wrote quite a bit then. Then I got married, my first teaching job, my sons were born, two advanced degrees…. I wrote only sporadically. Usually just short poetry. Maybe a couple a year.
What was I expecting? What did I think being a writer entailed? Oh, sure. I read all sorts of books from famous writers on the craft and the publishing nightmare. I suppose I thought “being a writer” was just writing and being published and making a living doing it. A good living. Famous even.
When I retired after my wife died, I wrote for many reasons. It felt good. It gave me purpose. I liked being productive and creative. I tried different things. I made myself write something every day for a while and produced quite a bit, and short stories and essays as well as poetry. With the new wave of self-publishing possibilities available with the computer age, I even published a book of the poetry (Dandelions and Other Flowers) I had written over forty years or so. Haven’t made a dime. Enjoyed getting it done, though. And I decided I could honestly call myself a writer.
Writing a long short story (The Wolves of Evanheir) convinced me that I could even write a novel. I have a great idea (I think), and I started working on it in 2013 or 14. Then a funny thing happened. I got married again. I got happy again. Both of my sons are married and they have four children between them. My new wife has three daughters and six grandchildren. The ten of them range in age from four to twenty-four. Guess what we’re doing?
But…I started writing again last fall. Seriously. Seriously writing. This winter and spring it’s intensified. The story keeps pulling at me. The characters keep shouting that they’re not finished and want out! The ideas keep coming…because I keep writing.
It’s always been the best advice I’ve ever heard or read, and it’s the best advice I ever gave to my own students when they said they couldn’t think of anything to write. “Write!” It doesn’t matter what. Just write.
So I’m writing about writing on this page. I spent about four hours on the novel this afternoon. I need to leave it alone to percolate for a while. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, probably. No. It really isn’t a “novel approach.” It’s almost cliche. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You don’t even have to publish anything. Writers write because they really don’t have a choice not to do so. Even if they’re the only ones who read what they’ve written, they have to write.
Call yourself a writer? Only if you’re writing.
Sometime this year you may get a chance to read my novel. I first have to see where it’s going from here…and write it down.