Picture the Writer

Browen Matheson

Picture the Writer

They sit under a tree with a tattered notebook scrawling their thoughts on the page. They are somehow furious and pensive at once. Occasionally, they stop and look in the middle distance or pause to scratch out a line or two.

So, you’re not that whimsical? When I ask you to picture the writer, you know they aren’t all toting Moleskines and chasing a muse through the park. You’re too practical for that. Let’s try again.

Picture the Writer

They are sitting in a coffee shop and their beverage of choice is getting cold while they type. You hear the clicking of their fingers on the keys desperately trying to get whatever is in their brain into a document. When they pause it is to hit the delete key with some level of malice. They take a sip of their now cold or melted beverage before they start again.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe when you picture the writer, it’s like Leonard Cohen in his attic with a typewriter. Perhaps you are a writer and you do your best work on a couch in your pajamas.

The picture doesn’t matter. People write in all sort of ways. But I feel like there is probably one consistent element. When you picture the writer.

Picture the Writer

They are somewhere with something: a pen, a computer, a typewriter, a phone, and they are writing. They may pause briefly to think or edit, but mostly when you picture the writer, they write.

Picture the Writer

But, please, if you would be so kind, do not picture me. I don’t, and I think that’s okay.

You might be confused when I tell you I am not a writer.

I am writing a blog post for a website run by a writing collective. Don’t worry, I haven’t come here under false pretenses. I am a part of this collective because I was part of the founding writer’s circle (read more about that here) and I wrote the titular story for our book You Hit Me With Your Car and Other Love Stories (that you can purchase here).

BUT, I don’t write a whole lot. In fact, in my three years in the writing circle I showed ONE piece of work and it was the prologue of a novel that I wrote when I was fourteen.

I did use that piece and the prompts that I wrote at the circle to get into a writer’s workshop the summer of my senior year and I did use the stories I wrote in that workshop to make a writing portfolio for college.

If you’re keeping track: I was part of a writer’s circle in university and a writer’s workshop where I compiled a writing portfolio and then I wrote a story for a book that was published.

Despite all of that, for a long time my bio in the book started with the fact that I am not a writer.

The reasons that I am not a writer are as follows:

  1. If I tell you I am a writer, you might ask what I am writing. This is a problem because:
    • I am not writing anything
    • I am, but I don’t want to talk about it, or I do, but not with you.
    • I have talked about it, at length, with friends who I trust not to hold me to writing it because I don’t feel like actually writing.
  2. You, if you are very bold, might ask to read something. This is a problem because:
    • I can only direct you to our book (It’s a few clicks away)
    • I can direct you to some fanfiction (but I will not)
    • I can direct you to my best essay (but I will not let you take it out of its frame.)
    • I have nothing else to offer. (No, the writing folder is empty. There is nothing to see. I promise).
  3. With a title comes an expectation. This is a problem because:
    • A writer writes, and I do not.

The main reason that I am not a writer, however, is because I am other things. I am a big nerd who plays Dungeons & Dragons. I am a binger of television. I am a reader. I am a YouTube addict. I am a listener of many podcasts. I am a person who enjoys talking on the phone. I am an older and younger sister. I am a roommate. I am a friend.

Now, I know that I can be all of these things and still be a writer. I am not saying that I could not do all of this and write but I’ve never been great at managing my time. So, I’ve decided to use my time being other things. My priorities might change and writing might take the forefront of my mind but at the moment I am not a writer.

To be clear: I am not here to tell you what makes one a writer. I have no power to gatekeep writing or to define what counts as being a writer for anyone else. In my opinion, and that’s all it is, an opinion, all you need to be a writer is to write. And as I mentioned, I don’t do a lot of that.

If you consider yourself a writer then you are one. So, let’s try this again.

Picture a Writer

Is it you? That’s great! Good luck!

I might join you soon, but right now, frankly, I don’t feel like it.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close