A Writer Who Never Writes?
I had a friend recently ask me if he might be a writer. He hasn’t written anything, but for his whole life he has felt something about writing. His career has taken him a completely different direction, but now in his 30s he is interested in writing.
So the question stood out to me. Thom Jones the famous short story writer didn’t write until late in life and didn’t publish until he was in his fifties. You’ve got to ask yourself how did he know he was a writer? He is a very good one at that.
If you spend your whole life not writing and pick up a pen at the end, does this make you a writer? I would think everyone would agree that Thom Jones is a writer. He has published countless short stories, but the question here is about something else. Are you a writer if you do not write?
When I was younger I would have said this was a stupid question. Writers write. It is that easy, but most of writing is really thinking about the story, thinking about the characters, thinking about writing. So if you go around all day thinking about writing are you a writer?
Sophocles never wrote anything, I would argue he was a writer. So how do you know? If you go around with other worlds in your head, the problem becomes it doesn’t matter to anyone but you. No one will ever know about your characters about your genius until you put it down on paper. Does it matter? You still have your characters your worlds your imagination. So you might have the heart and mind of a writer, but no work to show for it. That has to describe many many writers.
I would say try of course. It is worth something to write it down. Get it out. So how do you know if you are a writer? You know it inside, deep deep, like Raymond Carver. The question might be better asked “Are there writers out there who never write anything?” The answer has to be yes. In this wide and wondrous world many stranger things live and walk around calling themselves something different than what they do. How do you know it?
The only way to really know is to sit down at least once with a blank sheet of paper and see what happens. That’s the only way others will know, and perhaps the only way you will really know it. Again, deep deep you might already have it inside. You might be the writer who never writes.