Don’t you just love it when you meet people and they ask what you do and you tell them you’re a writer and their reply is, “I always wanted to be a writer too!”
I call bullshit every time. Usually with good results. There’s something about writing, isn’t there. Some people have this misguided misconception that it is somehow noble. The act of writing. In reality, it really isn’t. Talent–both hard fought and natural born–is needed in order for anything to happen with the byproduct of the actual act of writing. You can count on that. But the only thing holding these people back, the ones that say, “I always wanted to be a writer”, is desire. I tell them, “No. You don’t want to be a writer. You’re wrong about that. If you wanted to be a writer, you would sit. You would write.”
Quite often, they don’t know what to do with that response. But there are those special times when I just know I have flicked the switch. And that is about as rewarding as a thing gets. To know that you have somehow, through a series of seemingly innocuous comments, given someone else the permission to do something they have heretofore only dreamed of doing. It’s magic.
There are those who will challenge me. “I don’t have the time.” “I wouldn’t be any good at it.” “I don’t know a verb from a hootenanny.” “The kids, the spouse, the hockey games, work, shoveling the snow…I don’t know where to fit it in.” “I don’t know what to write about.”
I patiently pick apart all the excuses. They listen. They sometimes get defensive, as though I’m breaking down this wall they worked extremely hard to build up. When they’re cornered, the ones who really meant the original comment begin to think, “Well, maybe I should.”
I always think of that ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW song when this happens. You know the one. Frank N. Furter is standing up there on the RKO stage (or is he in the swimming pool?), looking larger than life and twice as nice. You know the song. He begins seductively, “Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate satin draped frame…”
Most of the song absolutely doesn’t apply here. But there’s the part that goes,
CAN’T YOU SEE IT? WHOA OH OH…DON’T DREAM IT—BE-E IT.
That’s the part. If I was a singer, I would belt that line out like nobody’s business every single time somebody said, “I always wanted to be a writer” to me. Alas, I am not. I’ve been banned from singing in most provinces and States. Don’t feel sad for me…if you heard me singing you would understand.
So, if you’re a writer and you get those people entering into your life who always wanted to be a writer…call them on it. Don’t let them get away with it. Eventually, you’re gonna have a great story to tell. A story about the day you kick-started some great and talented wannabe into becoming the writer they always considered being. It’s extremely rewarding to breakdown that wall of WANNABE and pave the way to BE IT. And it just takes a nudge. A nudge and a dream.
Sometimes people just need a little push to prompt them to tackle a dream they assumed was unattainable. I’d rather help someone reach to attain their dream than quash it for them.
Hilariously true, and a beautiful sentiment in pushing the real writers to come out!
I think it’s the romantic notion of being a writer that appeals to a lot of people. The Hollywood promoted idea that writers sit at their leisure, write when they want to, travel the world and for all that they get adoration and bags of money… Thank-you Castle.
For the record, I never wanted to be a writer. I always hated English class but loved books. I love a good story and I love telling a good story. My wife says it’s because i love an audience. While that may be true, it is earning the attention of that audience that is the most fulfilling. Writing is the act of translating those stories, those pictures, that music, into words. And that is hard.
Well said Kevin, that you can turn an off the cuff phrase into motivation and then pass that, unselfishly, along.
You make great points, Dale! (This reminds me…I have not yet had the Castle experience, and I’ve heard a lot about it.) I love what you said about earning the attention of your audience. Thanks much!