San Francisco, California

On Writing

“Am I taking this seriously enough?” I ask myself. You know, ~this~; the words and the typing, the becoming-a-writer-slowly-over-time thing. I put pen to paper maybe a couple of times a week but do I spend hours a day writing in hopes of being not only good at this thing, but great?

No.

I’m sat on my porch reading and soaking up the sun—freckles galore!—and this annoying book has delivered yet another one-two punch that has me reevaluating how much attention I give to my writing. The book? Oh, I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing after so many folks have recommended it to me. And page after page of it is like this:

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on a page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly.

I’ve treated my writing like this: as a hobby, not a job. I’ve treated it all so very lightly, being caught up in the hubbub of the design and engineering worlds that I forget that those are things I do for rent money but the writing is who I am, unfortunately. But why is this a problem? Well, King argues that stories are “found things, like fossils in the ground.” You have to work to hunt for them, to dig them out of the earth. And if you don’t work hard enough then you’ll never see them for the treasures they might become.

With my writing career I’ve never had a Dora or Brad shout at me, to lovingly push me to try harder. And so On Writing reminds me that I could be doing so much better than this, that everything up until now has been fine but the work could be dazzling, if only I didn’t treat it all so lightly.