Monday, July 23, 2007

A Writer Writes ...

Rick O. is a writer, occasional commenter here, and my best friend. He is in town visiting from the left coast, and I invited him to contribute a guest blog post.

"A writer writes. You may have already figured this out, but when an instructor first said this at a session of the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in 1999, the words unleashed a world-altering revolution for me.

"Until then, and like so many other would-be writers, I thought that one was only an authentic writer when they’d had something published. Sure, you might waste hours scribbling a perfectly clean paper full of confusing pen scratches or clog the precious hard drive of a balky computer, but this doodling amounted to nothing more than a hobby. Or maybe a self-indulgent escape from real responsibility. I was certain that you weren’t a real writer unless at least one other human being had acknowledged the value of your labor by bringing the words into print in a public forum.

"Yet here was a woman I respected, not the least for her own impressive achievement in published fiction, telling me that the mantle worn by Faulkner, Hemingway, and Vonnegut could indeed be mine. All it took was action. On my part.

"How frightening. After all, it was much easier to stifle myself than to take responsibility for my own dream. If the only requirement to call oneself a writer was to spend a little time each day writing, what could stop me from doing it?

"I’m embarrassed to remember all the excuses.

"But her words resonated with me, and took root in a way that was impossible to ignore. Through an amicable, if cool divorce, a separation from an emotionally unfulfilling if financially lucrative job, and an exchange of coasts, I couldn’t escape the simple truth of this other writer’s statement.

"All it took to be able to call oneself a writer was to take time to write every day. That’s it. Take a moment to think about this yourself. If you write today, you ARE a writer. Even if what you write never gets published. Even if no one else ever reads a word.

"This truth still animates my daily work, and one of my goals is to spread the word. I have now been published, and occasionally even read, but when a newbie or wanna-be asks me what it takes to be a writer I’m happy to tell them. A writer writes.

"Keep on writing!"

6 Comments:

Blogger Camille Alexa said...

Nice; a guest spot on the Wheeler show (and such eloquent delivery)! Hello, Mr. O.

July 23, 2007 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where were you published? I think I saw you in City Beat . . .

July 23, 2007 at 10:56 PM  
Anonymous rick o said...

Camille Alexa -- thank you for reading, and your kind words. As for guesting, it's nice to know that nearly three decades of friendship (and a six pack of Sam Adams) are good for something.

Anon -- yes, that would be CityBEAT, San Diego's only authentic alt weekly. Thanks for reading.

July 24, 2007 at 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought The Reader was San Diego's alternative weekly....

July 24, 2007 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Guests! I feel like when I watched the Tonight Show and Jay Leno would show up instead of Johnny. Nice post, rick o. It is true that a writer writes. I know a lot of people who have yet to learn that lesson.

July 25, 2007 at 11:32 PM  
Anonymous rick o said...

Steve - Thanks for the comment. Jay Leno for Johnny ... a flattering comparison.

I enjoyed this opportunity, but I find myself hoping the star returns and soon.

July 26, 2007 at 9:04 AM  

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