I’ve only recently begun calling myself a writer. The title is still stiff and slightly uncomfortable.
I was talking to a friend today and confessed that I hate the actual process of putting words on paper. (This blog post, in fact, is an attempt to avoid writing for a quickly approaching deadline.)
Writing—putting ever-changing, never-standing-still ideas into neat little sentence rows—exhausts me. It’s hard and painful and takes more discipline than I can usually muster.
I do not call myself a writer because I like to write.
I call myself a writer because as painfully awful as writing is, I can’t help doing it. I feel compelled to wrangle my rowdy, wandering thoughts, to make something consonant from the loud dissonance in my brain. It’s not a choice. I have to do it.
But I don’t have to do it. I can stalk people on Facebook, or post to Tumblr, or pick out throw pillows on Etsy.
I will write eventually. It’ll break out of me at four in the morning or at a stoplight or while I’m trying to get my daughters in bed for a nap. I’ll stop everything and write. It won’t be easy now just because the ideas have started boiling over the rim of the pot, but it will be unavoidable.
When it’s done, when the article is written or the poem seems finally perfect, when I see my ideas in formation, all orderly and clean, I am satisfied like a housewife putting away the last piece of freshly washed laundry or like a builder surveying perfectly straight rows of bricks.
It’s the product that makes me love writing, and the work that makes me hate it. But it’s the indomitable compulsion to write that makes me a writer.