To be a writer, you need only do one thing; write.
Sounds so very simple doesn’t it? But it took me a very long time to accept this sentence as the truth. When I was a prosecutor in Denver, before becoming a motion picture agent in Hollywood, I attempted to write a book. Many days I did anything to avoid sitting down with my spiral tablet and writing. I would actually choose to mop floors, organize closets or wash dishes and I loathe housework. At the time, I was unsure as to why I wouldn’t sit and write. But I convinced myself that to call myself a writer, a true writer, a real writer I needed only one thing….I needed stationary.
I remember that I read in one of those writing books (the hundred or so I read) that to query an agent or a publisher you needed to have professional looking stationary…the really good stuff with a letterhead that was either thermograph or engraved. I knew if I got the stationary, then I would truly be a real writer. So I got the stationary, I think close to 200 pages and it was close to a dollar a sheet. A true investment for me. I was fresh out of school with student loans to pay. I remember taking the box of stationary to the car, sitting behind the steering wheel and lifting the lid of the box. My fingers touched the soft parchment, 100% cotton. I rubbed the hard impression of my name and address on the top of the page…now…now with my fancy stationary I was finally a writer.
Ah. But as I noted earlier in this post, to be a writer one only need write. And that statement is true. The beautiful stationary, that I thought would magically transform my poor habits of sitting down only when the mood struck or willfully not writing when I felt the urge to write, didn’t dissipate with the purchase of this lush stationary. No, I broke those bad habits much like I’ve broken other bad habits in my life, with conscious decision making and dogged perserverance…with the occasional whining and chocolate ice cream eating session thrown in for comfort.
My willful act of not writing, of choosing to do something other than write, I now believe, was like smoking or drinking or overeating…for me, I believe not to write was an attempt at self harm. A form of self hatred. And by making writing a daily habit like brushing my teeth, showering, exercise I nurtured myself. I chose to do the one thing that makes me a better person and a writer, I chose to write.