If I Say I Am Writing a Book, Does that Make me a Writer?
Posted by wlebolt
I tell people, actually my daughter does, that I am writing a book. (That’s her way of being proud of me.) People are usually interested in this. I/we get several responses:
- Oh, what you are writing about?
- Oh, can I read it?
- Oh, can we be the first in line to buy it? (ah, Shangri-La!)
But very often I get the response, “Oh, I would like to write a book.” I’m never quite sure how to respond to that. I think people have expertise they’d like to pass along or a story they’d like to tell. Perhaps all of us have this compulsion in some form or other. But what enamors us about writing a book? And indeed, what puts the stars in our eyes? The endpoint, seeing my words and my story in print, is indeed a tempting and lofty goal. But writing it…that’s the hurdle.
The first thing I want to say to them is, oh, are you a writer? By this I probably mean ‘have you been published.’ I stop short of saying ‘are you a writer, too?’ Because me, I am just learning to write. I wonder which comes first, the learning or the writing nature?
These interactions remind me a bit of the goal-setting sessions I had with my new little travel soccer players. (10 years old or so) The most enthusiastic and confident would say, “My goal is to score 3 goals (or more) per game.” Now, our team only scored 2 goals the whole game – on very good days – so I stifled the grin and said, “Wow. That would be great. What would you need to work on to do that?”
And that’s the issue with writing a book. First, one must learn the skill. And see if it’s fun, inspiring, or at least attracts you to the task. See if others connect with what you write. And even then, to stay the course is hard. As Lois Lowry said to her child audience in a webinar I heard yesterday, “It takes a long time to write a book.” And she is a gifted, gifted writer with an amazing imagination and 40-some published books.
When people tell me they’d like to write a book, I know it’s like little Sierra who wanted to score 3 goals per game. They have a dream and call it a goal. Even when it’s specific, measurable, reachable, etc. ….one still must slug through the steps toward it. And they are hard. We’re not good at them yet. And even when we get better, there are no guarantees.
We humans like to skip to the happy ending. Let me just jump right to Easter and skip all that Good Friday stuff. Scourging and flogging and crucifying? Pfft. Who needs it?
We do. We need to sit in the hard stuff. Work out the kinks. Negotiate with the difficult people – even and especially when they are us. We need the Passion before the Resurrection. Because in it, we discover the power in us: the ability, the aptitude, the strength of character. Perhaps it’s mostly the fortitude – enduring the daily grind and the perspective it offers. The view of the dirt at our feet as we step.
I am getting to know the protagonist in my story. We are becoming friends, perhaps closer than friends. Perhaps she is my daughter and all the daughters I have adopted along the way. It is to them I write this story. For them. Perhaps one day it will be a book.