This week I am featuring guest blogger, Linda LaRoche, an author and editor who teaches Creative Writing and Blogging at College of Southern Nevada. Linda shares my zest for travel and for getting to the heart of why we write. I hope you enjoy her blog and welcome your comments
No two ways about it
February 8, 2011
In my classes I was recently asked two questions, “When did you know you were a writer?” And, “Is that all you do, write?” They are identity questions, self•worth questions, fulfillment and personal freedom questions–a nascent creative soul’s penetrating questions. And loaded into the questions seem to be an underlining ground•zero that tethers the one asked to a primary sense of identity— something presumably more real, more acceptable, more common, much more stable. To be a loan officer, you apply for the job and show up every day for work; to be a writer, you have to know –via, perhaps, some mystical experience – that you’re a writer.
You are a writer when you are writing. I know it sounds simplistic, yet it is true. Do not roll your eyes, reader, as if I’ve heard that one before. As we evolve in our work lives, piecing together various kinds of employment to earn money, step•by•step nudging out the non•writing stuff and making the writing central (or at least that which is writing•related), I find it to be even more starkly true: I am not a writer when I am editing or critiquing someone else’s work, or composing social media articles. I am not a writer when I am nibbling on wine and cheese at a fashionable literary event. I am not a writer when I am teaching, i.e. talking about craft and helping others with theirs. I am not a writer when I am tweeting other writers or keeping up on my self•promotion, or reading literary blogs. I am not a writer when I am on a search for a new book to read or when I am drinking coffee in Starbucks leafing through the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com. I know I am a writer when I am writing. When I am working with words, when I am making ideas and characters come to life with written language. When I am laying out the pages on the desk and taking my blue sharpie to chunks of text that I know don’t work in the story, when I lose myself and forget basics like the hour, eating, brushing my hair, while typing a paragraph where something terrible, or euphoric, or quietly illuminating is happening. This may sound naïve but I feel strongly that I must be honest; I must be writing to be a writer. Otherwise, I feel like a fraud. Even if it’s just an hour because that’s all there’s time for, or even if I’ve been working on the same damn narrative arc problem in a short story for weeks, I know that I cannot stand in front of either my own mirror or even in front of you, dear inquirer, and exhort you to “show, don’t tell” or “up the emotional stakes” or instruct you to “live your passion” if I am not myself at the writing desk, messing with words, living in the trenches and heights of which I speak.
That is how it feels to be a writer; nothing more, nothing less. It’s a full•time job, anything else distracts from it. I’ve had my share of work that has taken me away from writing, and it may not be all I do, but it’s my priority in life, and the secret to being a writer is to not stop writing and to show up for work.
Freelance writer, Linda LaRoche teaches Creative Writing and Blogging at College of Southern Nevada and continuing education classes at UNLV. Her last two multi•cultural novels and collection of short stories portray a heartfelt tale of liberation, desperation, and the grip of love.
Find out more by visiting: http://www.lindalaroche.com/blog
And join the discussion on her blog, the Quill