Working writers

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, you guys.

Not so much creative writing, although I’m still crawling my way back to it. I’ll keep crawling until I get there.

No, lately I’ve been writing letters to students about their work. I’ve been writing lesson plans for workshops. I’ve been writing recaps of zombie shows. I’ve been writing book reviews and op-eds. I’ve been writing emails–lots and lots of emails to all sorts of people. I still write the odd cover letter or two (why not)? I write rejection letters. I write acceptances. I try to write blog posts. Getting better about that, too. I’ve been writing essay proposals.

When I’m not writing, half the time I’m talking or thinking about writing. I’m explaining the purpose of a thesis. I’m mulling over submissions. I’m mulling over my student’s essays. I’m mulling over books and short stories. I’m judging short stories. I’m thinking–somewhat yearningly–about my own writing. I’m getting back there. I am. I’m reading the writing of my friends and colleagues and trying to think of something thoughtful to say (I suck at this–I don’t know why people keep asking.) I’m drafting letters to various organizations in my head; I need to write them down, still.

Sometimes I forget and despair a little bit that I’m not a “working writer,” that is to say, someone who writes for a living. Then I remember 80% of my day is writing or reading. More, I think, if you count social media. The “a living” bit is still a work in progress, but that’s true for everything. It’s getting better. I’m definitely writing to live and probably living to write. I’m writing and living for a lot of other reasons, too, don’t worry.

“Working writer” either feels incredibly pretentious or not at all. It’s probably pretentious. It’s probably faux blue-collar. I don’t even like calling myself a writer half the time. I don’t like calling myself an editor either. But how else can I indicate in a noun or two how I spend my days?

It’s a good thing I love writing. It’s a good thing I’m a little obsessed. Otherwise I’d be sick of it. It helps, I think, that it’s not all the same thing. It’s not four sections of Comp all at once. It’s not a pile of literary novels to review. It’s a lot of things–they just all come down to words on a page, to language, to structure.


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