Write Now Newsletter – July 2004

“Everybody can write; writers can’t do anything else.”

– Mignon Mclaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook

Hi Writers:

I have some advice. If there’s anything you love more than writing, go do it. If there’s a craft, skill, talent, or joy that you can go after, go find it. Plumbing, landscaping, roofing, accounting, masonry, medicine, politics, and carpentry are all excellent ways to spend your time. If anything beyond the written word can save you, let it.

If, however, you are one of the diseased few who find yourself rewriting sentences in your sleep, the type who cannot read a book, watch a film, or listen to a friend tell a joke without thinking, “How did she do that?” and wanting to give it a try, you have my condolences. Welcome to the club. It’s a small club, a nervous club, a club meant only for the hearty. But it’s our club. And once you know you’re a member, there’s no turning back. You’re in. You’re a writer.

It’s not to say that writers don’t have hobbies or other jobs. We have to put food on the table and keep our abdomens from looking as though we’ve been crouching over a table all day (even though we have). But if you’re a writer and not just a person in love with the idea of writing, a writer deep down in your bones, nothing else will suit you. (And even your writing won’t really suit you, but that’s another matter.)

If you’re a writer, you’ll think about writing and want to write all the time. At your wedding you’ll stare at your betrothed and think, “Should I write this in chronological order or as a flashback?” You’ll sit in the molded fiberglass chair at the laundromat and wonder, “Can I capture the rhythm of the washer in a poem?” Even while you’re having sex you’ll find yourself dreaming, “Should I keep our real names in the book?” and “Who should play me in the screenplay?” It’s not normal, except for us.

As sick as it is, it’s wonderful too because we get to live twice. We live our lives as we live them and then we relive them as we write them (whether we’re writing our own lives or one we’ve made up). We have no choice. We are here to keep the world’s record. We are here to keep track of things and to put them down. We can’t help it. It’s just who we are.

So if you’ve been struck senseless by the malady of writing, I feel your pain. There is no cure. There is only a daily reprieve contingent upon one thing – that you pick up your pen and go. Only by writing will your misery be curtailed.

Nita (ain’t no pill gonna cure my ill) Sweeney
(c) 2004 by Nita Sweeney