There is no excuse for me lately. I have been writing and writing, and that means that a lot of other things have fallen away: cooking, coherent conversations, laundry, just to name a few of the really obvious ones.
The life that’s going on inside my book is the one that feels the most real lately, and yet I’m aware at some level that it is so not real that it’s possible that I’m the only one who’ll ever know about it. But I have a character who insists on talking to me all the time, and twice this week I’ve had to pull over while driving just to jot down on a torn Stop & Shop receipt what she had to say about her grandmother. Therefore I have little scraps of paper upon which the following phrases appear:
SOAPIE SHOULD KNOW AGE 88 IS TOO OLD TO BE HAVING AN AFFAIR!
and the ever mysterious:
STORY TELL YOGA PREGNANCY–NOT YOGA, BUT ENGLISH SECOND LANGUAGE
That one may be lost for all time.
Days like today, these pieces of paper are all that tether me to the real world of my book. They let me know I’m a writer.
A few years ago, I included a post in which other people wrote to Connecticut Muse and told how they know they are writers. And here are a bunch of their comments. Feel free to add your own to the mix. It’s a wonderful subject for discussion.
Also: I’ll be speaking about writing and creativity at the Women’s Creativity Conference at Quinnipiac University this Saturday (March 5) at 9:30 a.m. Want to come and join in the discussion? For more information, or to register, go to Creativity Conference or call (203) 582-8954.
You know you’re a writer if looking out the window is part of the job.
You know you’re a writer if:
you make notes right after sex
you stutter when asked what you do
you edit others conversations in your head while listening to them
you always carry a note book
you go to bed too late and get up too early
you are constantly saying…I should write that down
You know you’re a writer if you get cranky when you don’t have time to write.
You know you’re a writer if you check your email twelve times an hour when you’re supposed to be working on your computer. No, actually it could be more than that.
You know you’re a writer if you’ve done everything you possibly can in life to avoid writing but still find yourself needing to.
You know you’re a writer if you have constant bags under your eyes, your purse is stuffed with at least five pens and random pieces of paper napkins on which you’ve made notes for the next chapter of your novel, you are constantly on a caffeine high, you never back up your material, you wake up nightly with cold sweats from a free-floating anxiety wondering if anyone is going to buy your book. The only thought that keeps you relatively sane is: if all else fails, you can always run away, never to be heard from again.
You know you’re a writer if your friend tells you a heartbreaking story and your first reaction is – wow, that would make an incredible plot for a novel. You know you’re a smart writer if you manage to keep that reaction to yourself.
You know you’re a writer when you are not writing with pen to paper or with fingers to keys, you are writing twenty-four /seven in your brain because everything around you becomes a story.
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
You know you’re a writer if you are still in your jammies at five o’clock, the dog hasn’t gone out since the sun rose and your kids are wondering if someone has paid you a hundred thousand dollar advance that they don’t know about.
You know you’re a writer if the poetry book on your kitchen table was a pile of napkins last week.
You know you’re a writer if (like me at this very moment) you are wakened at 2:37 am, a character whispering (shouting perhaps?) in your ear, urging you, no, commanding you, to fire up your laptop, cup of tea in hand, and write the next chapter, in which she insists on taking you places you never intended to go!
You know you’re a writer if your work clothes are mostly sweat pants and pajamas.
You know you’re a writer if:
…you burn through more ink cartridges than Kleenex in the winter
…you see the next story line while arguing with your lover and leave to “get it down” before forgetting it
…on good days there’s a lingering smell of burnt plastic coming from your keyboard
…the dogs would rather float away, whimpering, than interrupt you at the key board to take them outside
…there are oxygen lines, intravenous feeding tubes, and large Starbucks syringes attached to your desk, and nobody in the family notices any of this anymore.
You know you are a writer if everyone has told you that you’ll never get published and you keep writing.
You know you’re a writer if you can’t remember some of the plot details of the book you just released because you’re so engrossed in writing the next one.
You know you are a writer if every overheard remark becomes a beginning of a story, if what you glimpse from the corner of your eye triggers a vignette, if you awake in the morning wondering what the characters in your novel are going to do today, if something you read evokes a memory you can use in your writing, if all of life is about making connections that help you understand who you are, well then, indeed you are a writer! Claire Vreeland
You know you’re a writer when you walk around in the zone, open to believing that every person is a potential character, and every object suggests a metaphor.
Pegi Deitz Shea
You know you’re a writer if everyone around you is totally engrossed in watching James Bond extricate himself from his latest cliff hanger escapade and you are sitting with pencil in hand making notes about the couple in front of you.
You know you’re a writer if you’re still in your pajamas at 5 pm and yet you’ve been working all day!
You know you’re a writer when every moment of every day you turn whatever you are facing at the moment into a short spurt of prose or poetry in your head, including your dreams, and it has become so commonplace that you have stopped writing things down and bemoan the loss of them later as the story or poem idea that would have wowed your readership, as if you had a readership because you are, after all, a writer.
You know you’re a writer if writing about something makes it real.