I am a writer. I would like to write a book someday. Maybe many books. I have enough material, if I paid attention, to write a couple just about my life, if I thought it was interesting enough. I have lots of stories and a good memory, though it is sometimes hard to get it all down, to document any section of my life with a sense of completion. It is no surprise to me that a story or a full length movie can describe the activities of a solitary day in the life of someone, for we come into contact with more potency than we often give ourselves credit. I have often taken more from these one day vignettes than I have epic sagas of generations, since I usually can only think one day at a time. I try to see a few weeks ahead, maybe even months or years, but it's never easy. So much will happen between then and now that I can't possibly foresee that it makes the entire attempt futile by comparison of my everyday life, which seems in itself, full to capacity.

This is not because I consider myself as having a full life but having large chunks of it spoken for by circumstances. My job requires 53 hours of my day per week, my fixation on better physical endurance 6 hours, and getting about 5 hours a night of sleep, most of the other time is spent either recoiling, regrouping, and writing. The urge to write and/or talk to people online takes most of my waking hours. It calls to me the moment I get home. During those occasional spaces where I force myself out to a coffee shop where I can sit out somewhere and let my mind wander, I'm still grabbing for a pen and paper to catch any and all loose thoughts. Sometimes even when I let myself lay down on my bed and stare and the wood paneling of my walls and just be quiet, I can't. I either fall asleep or am so flooded with thoughts that I find myself swatting them away like blood thirsty mosquitoes.

My idea of a good time is either having a few beers and listening to music, watching a movie, or simple sitting out somewhere and watching other people stroll around on Saturday afternoons, people with things to do and places to go. Or it is going out and doing things with friends that almost always brings itself to rest on a fruitful and stimulating conversation about life. I would like to do more, be more, but I'm at a point where patience is required, where time slows to a crawl for many reasons. The heat here is overbearing, my life is overwhelming in the decisions it will soon have to make, and yet my brain keeps on trying to make sense of it all while my heart gets tangled up in the exchanges.

I know that it is pompous to assume that only people who consider themselves writers, as I do, feel these ways. But I just can't imagine myself being anything else but a writer. It fits me. I'm pretty good at it and it's something I love. And yet I've been so many other things in the interim. Above all I've been someone people feel they can talk to, which is always a privilege.

What would you say you are?


I cannot define myself as one way to say who I am. I aspire to be a writer one day. I want to be a professor, a doctor, a philosopher, a hacker, a geek, a nerd, an artist, a poet, and I also desire to be many other titles. I sort of live by Heinlein's philosophy that Specialization is for Insects. I mostly lived by that before I read Heinlein. I want to everything and nothing. Go figure.

I eventually want to become a writer. I am already yearning to be a professor. I already write poetry, journals, stories and eventually factual books. To be able to write great works. Books, novels, essays and the like, the ability to write from my heart.

I like to write like the grand masters of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Those like Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Paine, and the like of great men and women(although I have not listed any women, I must admit I have not found old writings that were important and written by women, I am looking for suggestions]

I want to be able to find a spot, where I can be able to admire the beauty of nature. Socrates and Plato appeal to me. I want to be a writer that has had the affect on society like no other person has had recently. Something like Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" it was read or at least known by many as the best work that influenced the world.

I had a period this year where I really was planning to become a writer. I've always enjoyed doing the creative writing assignments in English class, and I saved up a collection of some of my good writing. I'm proud of it.

I took a creative writing elective in the second semester, and while it was enjoyable for a while, I came to realize that I'm 17; I have nothing to write about.

Sure, I'm angsty, as are many 17 year olds. You can see this in my work (http://beanpole.cjb.net). But beyond cynical, angry pieces, I have very little to say. I decided that my idea of becoming a professional writer was very misguided. That's a damn hard thing to be! I mean, what do you have when you have no good stories? You're a journalist. You crank out mindless pieces for the local newspaper.

Of course, I made the horrible mistake of actually telling my parents what I was thinking, and now my dad fixates on the concept that I will become a famous writer.

I wanna be an astronaut.

"I'm a writer. What are you?" is also an edited version of Harlan Ellison's reply to the studio executive who dissed Harlan's concept for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. According to Ellison's version, he kept coming up with ideas and the suits would keep telling him "no, no - you've got to find something bigger." This continued until Ellison, not known for his great patience with stupidity, suggested that the Enterprise should sail through the Universe until they found the End of Everything - a wall bounding the Universe off from whatever else is out there. Upon blasting through this wall (with a lot of technobabble in the process), Kirk and Co. found God. Literally, as in He was hiding behind the wall.

At this point, Ellison was sure he had found a concept that would surely be, if not a very good science fiction story, at least close to what the studio people wanted. But after a few minutes of Deep Thought, the head suit allegedly told him, "no, no. Aren't you listening? We need something BIG!" At that point, Ellison gave him the finger and told him, "I'm a writer. I don't know what the fuck you think you are." And he walked out, never to be involved with Star Trek again. This was a Good Thing in the long run, as he later became a Creative Consultant for Babylon 5.

Harlan Ellison's own words on the whole "I'm a writer. What are you?" story:

"Paramount had been trying to get a Star Trek film in work for some time. Roddenberry was determined that his name would be on the writing credits somehow... The trouble is, he can't write for sour owl poop. His one idea, done six or seven times in the series and again in the feature film, is that the crew of the Enterprise goes into space, finds God, and God turns out to be insane, or a child, or both. I'd been called in twice, prior to 1975, to discuss the story. Other writers had also been milked. Paramount couldn't make up their minds and had even kicked Gene (Roddenberry) off the project a few times, until he brought in lawyers. Then the palace guard changed again at Paramount and Diller and (Michael) Eisner came over from ABC and brought a cadre of their... buddies. One of them was an ex-set designer... name Mark Trabulus.

"Roddenberry suggested me as the scenarist for the film with this Trabulus, the latest.... of the know-nothing duds Paramount had assigned to the troublesome project. I had a talk with Gene... about a storyline. He told me they kept wanting bigger and bigger stories, but no matter what was suggested, it wasn't big enough. I devised a storyline and Gene liked it, and set up a meeting with Trabulus for December 11, 1975. That meeting was canceled... but we finally got together on December 15th. It was just Gene and Trabulus and me in Gene's office on the Paramount lot.

"I told them the story. It involved going to the end of the known universe to slip back through time to the Pleistocene period when Man first emerged. I postulated a parallel development of reptile life that might have developed into the dominant species on Earth had mammals not prevailed. I postulated an alien intelligence from a far galaxy where the snakes had become the dominant life form, and a snake-creature who had come to Earth in the Star Trek future, had seen its ancestors wiped out, and who had gone back into the far past of Earth to set up distortions in the time-flow so the reptiles could beat the humans. The Enterprise goes back to set time right, finds the snake alien, and the human crew is confronted with the moral dilemma of whether it had the right to wipe out an entire life form just to insure its own territorial imperative in our present and future. The story, in short, spanned all of time and all of space, with a moral and ethical problem.

"Trabulus listened to all this and sat silently for a few minutes. Then he said, 'You know, I was reading this book by this guy named Von Daniken and he proved that the Mayan calendar was exactly like ours, so it must have come from aliens. Could you put in some Mayans?'

"I looked at Gene; Gene looked at me; he said nothing. I looked at Trabulus and said, 'There weren't any Mayans at the dawn of time.' And he said, 'Well, who's to know the difference?' And I said, 'I'm to know the difference. It's a dumb suggestion.' So Trabulus got very uptight and said he liked Mayans a lot and why didn't I do it if I wanted to write this picture. So I said, 'I'm a writer. I don't know what the fuck you are!' And I got up and walked out. And that was the end of my association with the Star Trek movie."

Source: Stephen King's "Danse Macabre", footnote on pages 346-347 (hardbound 1981, first edition printing), from Harlan Ellison's own account. King's take on that little anecdote: "Right on, Harlan!"

Something a mentor once told me:

"Any idiot with a pen and paper or, perhaps, a typewriter or computer, can be a writer. If you want to be a writer, then do it. Just don't expect a whole lot of return on your investment in time. If, however, you want to be an author, then you've got a long, hard, vicious road ahead of you and whatever lies in your path will most likely want your head on a platter. That beast's name is Mister Editor and he's a son of a bitch to contend with. Be a writer all you like, but for God's sake, stay away from authorship with all your might."

I am a writer. I've been a writer since I was 16, just shy of half my life at this point, only I didn't come to the realization until I was 25. I am 29 now, pushing 30, and I've decided that I'm tired of being a Writer. I've got enough piss and vinegar in me to fight, tooth and nail, for the right to be an Author.

A writer writes; an author gets paid for it.

It takes years of hard work to be an Author. It takes writing your ass off, slogging through tons of tripe that you wouldn't show to your closest loved one. It takes hacking your own work to hell and gone and still feeling good about it because, hey, you're improving your skill. It takes talent. It takes time. It takes getting countless rejections. It takes training yourself to become a human video/tape recorder, mentally taking down every event in your life in the hopes that you can use it someday in one of your stories. It takes working yourself blind at some shit job until you can turn a dollar or two at doing what you love. It takes loving it, not just hoping for it. It takes being antisocial and snapping at your friends when you'd rather just be alone to do your thing. It takes finding your voice. It takes waking up in the middle of the night, when you haven't slept more than 6 hours in three days, just so you can put that crazy idea which won't leave you alone down on a scrap of paper and hope that will exorcise the demon, the monkey on your back. It takes all kinds of stuff that would drive most people insane if they aren't 100% devoted to it.

It also takes a lot of snide comments from some people about how you're wasting your life writing all the time while the world passes you by.

If you want to be a writer, that's easy and can be done in your spare time with minimal fuss. If you want to be an author, I've got news for you.

Many writers go into it with the intention of becoming authors. Many writers quickly realize just how much sacrifice they'll have to endure before it's all over. Many writers give up.

In the end, the only thing that will keep you on track will be your dedication to your craft. And it's a very solitary craft, at that. It's not glamour. It's not instant success. It's not even having a truckload of material. It is possible, but only if you don't give up, if you don't stop for anything.

Being a writer is a cakewalk compared to being an author. Being a writer and an author, however, is one of the nicest hat tricks a human being can pull off. Doing so ensures that you will remain an Author.

It's a career, a job. Just like any job, you must start at the ground level and work your way up. You must hate and love it with all your heart, both at the same time.

Keep that in your mind throughout your career as a Writer. If it still agrees with you after you've written about, oh say, a million words, then feel free to become an Author at your leisure. Just realize that the literary industry is not an equal opportunity employer: it only has room for those who are willing to do the work and who have the talent. And you've got lots of competition, to boot. I mean, who isn't a writer these days?

But what do I know? I'm still a writer.

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