What I Mean When I Say ‘I’m A Writer’

Flickr / Derek Gavey
Flickr / Derek Gavey

I want to say I’m a writer. I write. I’m a writer. It’s like a simple math equation, right? I write, therefore I’m a writer. But I’m not. I can’t say I am. To be a writer, you need to write. You write constantly. You read. You absorb. You become writing. Writing becomes you.

I, Michael, on the other hand, observe. I observe writing. I analyze your writing. I weigh the contents of your writing and determine if it’s the “Next Big Thing” β€” everything I put through is a gamble. Will people read this? Will this get traction? Who knows. That’s the beauty of gambling, right? The uncertainty of it.

But let’s get back to me. This is about my relationship with writing.

I haven’t written anything significant since… I guess one of my longer research-intensive pieces. There’s a couple I’m especially proud of, mostly because of the legwork and the amount of time it took me to research. But there’s the ones that I wrote for creative purposes. I actually received a certificate for that. I have a Creative Writing Certificate to go along with my BA in English. How crazy is that? Here’s this prick waving his useless degree around, literally not using it and writing about not being able to write. Well, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I haven’t been writing. And I’m afraid it’s because of my confidence in my abilities. My craft is still very…”raw.” Raw in that I never cared to hone it and sharpen it. It exists, this “talent,” as my professor called it a long time ago. But it feels like I never actually wielded talent.

This all stems from the realization that I have not been reading any “good” books. You see, back when I thought I was a “prolific writer” (this is when I wrote my first-ever novella, which I have not read since because I’m afraid of how terrible and pretentious it may seem today), I read every day. I used my university’s library β€” well, I should say abused it. (You really should abuse your library privileges when you can. You will miss having the ability to go and download scholarly articles for free and get those graduate studies single study cabin-like things. When you’re alumni, you get jack shit.) I tried reading anyone and everyone I got my hands on. And I really believe that it helped me as a writer. By reading, you form a rudimentary theory of form, then from there you go on to develop your “style.” My style was copy every single writer you idolize and emulate it until it feels like it’s yours.

You know what, I actually had a list going. Here it is:

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 12.25.09 PM
I’m realizing now that my tastes did not vary much. Goddamn.

And with that, I proceeded to write some of my “best” works. If you’re interested, you can check them out throughout this sentence. They’re embedded here and there.

Today, I haven’t read much. Instead, I’ve been reading finance books. Why investing is important, how to find real estate properties, what to do with your money. Where you should be β€” financially β€” as a 20-something. Real life hit me. Before, I was in college, doing my thing as an English major. I realize now why business majors look down on people who hold degrees in the humanities. It’s more than just making money. It’s understanding what to do with money. “Anyone can make money,” business majors seem to be saying. “It’s how you make money work for you!” β€” at least, that’s what I get out of this whole “the English major is a serious waste of time” spiel. (I don’t think graduating with a humanities degree is a waste of time, to be clear. I have no regrets!)

“Why don’t you write anymore?” I get asked that a lot. I honestly don’t have an answer for that. Maybe I should start saying, “Because, I want to have a significant retirement fund by the time I’m 55.” TC mark

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