Monday, February 20, 2006


I’ve been thinking about it, lately, and I know why I want to be a writer. And it’s not because I want to be a writer.

If you read or watch interviews with “real” writers, they always talk about having this internal drive to write. “The story just needs to come out.” They didn’t choose to be writers, they were born that way. Blah blah blah—I’m sure a lot of it is window dressing, with the writers coming up with a dramatic story about themselves, for the audience. But on the other hand, most successful writers got to where they are by hard work; working at some other job for the money, during the day, and then coming home and writing the night away. Piling up rejection letter after rejection letter, until some publisher/agent decided to take a chance on them. That’s not something you do unless you have at least some drive.

But I don’t have that drive. Oh, to be sure, I have it sometimes. If I hadn’t started work on God in the Driver’s Seat I would have gone crazy, because I was thinking about it all the time. Similarly, with my novel, I get the drive to work on it from time to time, but at this point it would be a stretch to call it a “work in progress”—I haven’t done anything on it in months. If I were a real writer, I’d be going home every night after work and spending some time on it, with a set goal; perhaps an hour every night, or 10 pages every night, or something along those lines. And I don’t.

I also don’t want to do it for the money. First of all, I know that most writers don’t make a lot of money; people like Stephen King are exceptions to the rule, not the rule. And I’m okay with that. To paraphrase Paul, I’ve been rich (relatively), and I’ve been poor (literally), and I learned to be content with each.

So why do I want to be a writer? It’s the lifestyle. I like the idea of being able to work at home. I like the idea of having a job where I would be required—yes, I say required—to read a lot, because that would be part of honing my craft. I love the idea of having a job where I wouldn’t have set meetings I have to go to, and I wouldn’t have to wear “business casual”, and I wouldn’t have to deal with clients. (Just readers, editors, publishers, agents, etc. Sure, it may not end up being much of a tradeoff...) I like the idea of having a job where, if I didn’t feel the creative juices flowing, I could goof off and watch Simpsons DVDs for an afternoon, instead of writing. Or, if I couldn’t sleep some night because I did feel the creative juices flowing, I could jump on the computer and get my thoughts down.

Also, I like the idea that if my book gets popular enough, some day I might get interviewed on The Daily Show. Of course, I have to ask ahead of time if I’ll be interviewed on the show, by Jon, or if I’ll be interviewed by someone else. If it’s someone else, chances are they want to make me look silly, and I’ll have to turn them down... And if I get asked by Stephen Colbert, for The Colbert Report, I’ll have to think hard about that, too. I don’t like his interviews—I find them kind of boring.

But I seem to have wandered from the point here. The point is this: I want to be a writer, but for all the wrong reasons.