26 April 2005

Why I am not a writer

Give me minute, I'll explain.

Growing up as I did with such a huge reverence for books, I've always looked at writers with a kind of awe. The four-year-old-staring-at-a-woman-being-sawed-in-half sort of awe. To me, writers are people who either can't help doing it (i.e., the "born to do it" variety), or work ceaselessly at forging their craft (i.e., the "drive to do it" variety). In other words, they're a special breed. I don't take the word "writer" lightly.

These views were strengthed (read: branded into me) by my unfortunate experience of having taken Literary Writing I as an elective during my senior year of college (I was a lit major). The class was filled with not-so-earnest freshmen and sophomores who longed to see their names in print and had very little desire (this may be an overstatement) to read or study literature. Most days I would walk out of that class nearly trembling with rage. I still haven't gotten over it.

"Being a writer takes sacrifice! You have to love the written word! You have to love books!" I would rant to any friends who were foolish enough to ask me about it.

Until recently, if an acquaintance was simple enough to call me a writer, I would feel lost in the gaping void between the "real" meaning and the "fake" meaning of the few creative writing majors I had the misfortune to know. On the one hand, to deny the title would reek of false modesty and sound as if I were fishing for compliments. On the other hand, to say nothing would be to perpetuate a misapprehension of the nobility of the term. What to do? Had I been smarter, I would've smiled at the clueless being and said, "No--I just love books."

I think this is why blogging makes so much sense to me, and why I've found it such a conducive medium. I can be an "articulate appreciator" (my spin on something Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said) in a worthwhile practice, without having to resort to the "W" word.

Of course, my parents still swear I'll crank out a book one day. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years.

1 comment:

genevieve said...

Ana, fiction is another story, I believe. I enjoy delivering essays, technical writing, reports - but I can't write dialogue for shit. Really. And I have a daughter who effortlessly composes characters with different voices and personalities, all hilarious - when she can be bothered.
Like you, I love good writing but I put it down to my thwarted musicianship! and used to feel torn between the two till I got some very stilted dialogue down a few years ago. That cured me for a while.
Having said that, I don't really believe good writing can be taught, so I'm not sure what the 'teaching of writing' industry is there for really, except maybe for journalism, formal poetry, and slaps and pats on the bum/back. So to speak. Blogging is a great loosener...
By the way, I appreciate being 'rolled - thanks!