imageSometimes people (including me) wonder why I choose to be a writer. After all, there are less mind-numbing, less frustrating activities and certainly more healthy ones. A brisk ten-minute walk is sure to trump a two-hour writing session, especially one fueled by mounds of silver-wrapped Hersey kisses as mine often are. Years ago, as part of a coaching experience, I had to put down on paper what, exactly, makes me a writer. Like many things in my house, the essay was “temporarily misplaced” (aka “hopelessly lost”) for several years. I found it a couple of days ago and decided to share it with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll see yourself in it!

What Makes Me a Writer?

I am a writer because I write words down on paper. I play with them. I manipulate them. And sometimes they manipulate me. Does this mean the person who writes a grocery list is a writer? I don’t think so, unless the words are artfully arranged in the shape of, say, an eggplant, or a jug of milk. That might qualify as some kind of loosey-goosey poetry, for all I know.

I am a writer because I can create entire worlds, small ones or large ones, populate them with whomever or whatever I please, and give them great joy or great despair at whim. Being a writer is sort of like being God. Since God’s creations have never done exactly what He wants them to, it shouldn’t surprise me when mine act up. Sometimes I find that I am racing after my characters, trying to catch up with them, wondering what the heck they’re up to now. Other times they just stop, like the Roadrunner screeching to a halt right at the edge of the cliff. It’s like some Cosmic Coyote pushed their off button, and I can’t find where it is to get them started again. Funny–I didn’t think I’d written narcolepsy into the story, but there it is, and it’s causing my characters to hibernate!

I am a writer because when I wake up in the morning with words in my head, I go straight to my computer or my spiral notebook, trying like mad to get the elusive little monsters down before they fly away.

That’s another reason I’m a writer. I can do my work without getting dressed for it. Sometimes I’ve scratched out a few words in my altogether, somewhere between shedding my clothes and getting into the shower or getting out of the shower and wrapping up in a towel. When the muse calls, I have to answer or risk forever losing the specific things she wants to tell me. I should know–I’ve lost them often enough! More often than not, my missing mascara surfaces somewhere on my messy desk. So what if I’m already in danger of running late, and my husband is tapping his foot downstairs? The right word comes when the right word comes, and sometimes it must be captured between strokes of mascara.

I am a writer because I panic more than most when a quirk of nature or some guy running into a utility pole shuts the electricity down, and my carefully tapped-out words disappear into the black lake of my computer screen. On the other hand, when modern conveniences fail, I can light a candle and scribble away in my Big Chief tablet. I can entertain myself, and that’s saying something. Whether or not I can entertain others depends on who they are, I guess. One woman’s treasure is another woman’s trash; one woman’s manuscript is another woman’s compost.

Mainly I am a writer because I love words, and it’s fun to string them together. Sometimes I love them too much and use too many. Like right now. A lot of people will never read to the end of this post, but if you did, guess what–I bet you’re a writer, too!