I want to be a writer, and sometimes I don’t know what that means.
I know that Molly Ivins and Hunter S. Thompson were writers. I know that they were good writers. And I wonder why I’m not a good writer yet.
I know that I care about education and foreign policy, and would wax politic about them non-stop if I had an adoring audience. But for some reason, the adoring audience is always the first on my checklist of “how to be a writer.”
I’ve fallen into the trap that Merlin Mann warned about: I’m so focused on being a writer that I’ve forgotten to actually write.
Flipping through news sites everyday, wondering why I’m not yet writing for The Atlantic or The Economist, doesn’t make it any easier. Instead of sitting down and actually writing, I mope about how if I only had a column in The New York Times, then I could really write.
So yeah, that just needs to happen, and then I’ll write. Oh, dear.
And ultimately, I end up flipping through mediocre news articles telling myself “I could have done this.” I caught myself thinking it this morning as I read yet another repetitive article about Syria, and I realized something. Every modern-art-hating asshole in the world has looked at a Mondrian painting and said “I could have done this.” And my response to all of those modern-art-hating assholes is: “yeah, but you didn’t, asshole. He did.”
Maybe I could have written that repetitive article about Syria – but I didn’t. And just like Mondrian didn’t end up in the MoMA just by being Mondrian, and Thompson didn’t end up at The Rolling Stone just by being Thompson, I’m not going to get a column in The New York Times without first doing the work I keep saying I can do. Perhaps it seems intuitive to those with more willpower than I have, but for me it takes a self-reprimanding blog post to remind myself to stop being an asshole, just start writing already.
If The Times doesn’t want to publish my articles about why obligatory schooling should be abolished or how Vladimir Putin is a scary man who should not be trusted, then I’ll just send them to Thought Catalog, thank you very much. They’ll take anything.