Back when I was at the university, getting my writing degree, I’d encounter people, mostly students but sometimes adults, who said they wanted to be a writer. So I would ask if they had written anything. In a lot of cases, the answer was no.
I don’t know what being a writer meant to them, then. A lifestyle of sleeping in, drinking coffee at a desk with a typewriter or a word processor, or something. But they weren’t writing, and they weren’t submitting things for publication. And I was.
Oh, it was so easy for me then. I was blatting out short stories, poems, personal essays, and articles, and I submitted them to magazines by the score starting with a short story I wrote from my dog’s perspective in the eighth grade. McCall’s passed on it (and where are they now?). As a matter of fact, most magazines passed on most things, but I have a collection of contributors’ copies, and I once got paid for a short story (“Reading Faces”) by a Kinko’s-produced magazine called Show and Tell. I even had an agent at one point, although I’m not sure if they actually submitted my first novel anywhere for publication.
Somewhere in my twenties and thirties, though, my writing tailed off. I wrote a couple of poems. I wrote a novel that I couldn’t place and self-published to no great success. I held a couple of technical writing positions, so I was a writer professionally, but not in the writer sense.
So I eventually stopped considering myself a writer. I don’t even think of myself as a blogger even though I’ve been tapping at this for almost twenty years. I’ve written and published some professional articles in periodicals, on QA Web sites, and on LinkedIn, but that’s more akin to technical writing than creative writing.
A couple of times at career crossroads, my beautiful wife asked me if I wanted to focus on writing another novel, but I’ve demurred. I did not have much luck with that first self-published one, and I have not been completing even short stories with any regularity.
So I don’t consider myself a writer, and yet within the last year or so, I have finished, what, five or six poems (and I’ve submitted them and gotten rejected from the local university’s literary magazine and sent them off to another literary magazine, but using the online submission system is less interesting and even colder than form rejection letters). And….
This year, I finished two stories.
The first, I wrote completely from start to finish. The second I finished from a draft I started probably not long after I read The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. Reading that and watching the old episodes of that program stirred my creativity a bit, and I guess it’s coming to fruition.
I actually submitted that story for publication the other day.
So do I want to be a writer?
I guess time will tell. I didn’t have much success with it earlier in my life–the stack of contributors’ copies and a couple of appearances in national magazines notwithstanding.
But I have written something.
I’ve tucked the first short story, the one I wrote completely this year, under the fold. It’s a short military sci-fi thing, just a run through a draft, but it’s something that I powered through. Like I said, I used to blat out things like this all the time, and I need to get disciplined and used to doing it again, I suppose. If I want to be a writer.