[Imagine Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love) being afraid to share her insight, honesty, and humor in writing! It’s true and — in today’s guest post — she not only confesses but explains how/why her “transformation” to being an author took place.]
I’m pretty sure there are only two kinds of writers in this world. The ones who spent their childhood dragging around piles of journals and their free time actually writing, and the ones like me, who for years only wrote in their heads. The biggest difference between the first and the second, I think, besides using paper, is that the first embraced what I like to call their inner writerdom, while the latter succumbed to the fear. When an option, fear seems to suit me.
For those of us who fancy ourselves writers, but have never written anything (and I was one of those people for a very long time, so believe me when I say I’m not judging) there is nothing more terrifying than the blank page. The idea is so terrifying in fact, that we choose to ignore it altogether and pursue alternative means of spending our lives. For me, I ran from the page by going to law school, and spending four years as an attorney, where I could fill pages by regurgitating case law, slewing together other people’s sentences. And only in the dark hours of night, or sometimes in the shower, would I write for myself, rearrange words until they meant something, only to get lost by morning, or when I put my foot on the bathmat, as if writing was some sort of dirty secret. Ah, it’s amazing what fear can do.
In college, my roommate took a fiction-writing course, and because I was too scared to share my work—no worse, I was too scared to create any work—I didn’t take the class, but read her syllabus again late at night, as if it was something to be shameful of. Neither did I turn my love of reading (and my distaste for numbers) into a major. Nope, again the fear kept me away and I embraced Philosophy, Political Science, Economics (Economics, really?), anything to avoid having to put my own thoughts, my own words onto paper. And still the paragraphs would line up at night, march into order, where I played with them, as if they were a game, not a way of life.
The funny thing is that when I finally embraced my identity as a writer, quit my job and plunged head first, I suddenly wasn’t scared at all. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I really, really hated my job, but I like to think that I needed to do all these other things first to know I was ready. Come to think of it, maybe there are two kinds of writers in the world. The ones who are born ready, and the rest of us who need to struggle just a bit first before we can face that terrifying blank page.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Alicia Bessette and Simply from Scratch. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.