Definition

I think I’m a real writer.

Never new how such a thing was defined, previously, but now I’m fairly sure I’ve got it.

At the last T.Dot Monthly Meetup, I did some writing exercises with the people. These are the wannabe writers who are still exploring, so I dredged up some exercises we did in university, brushed them off, and served them up again.

I don’t usually do writing exercises. Like physical exercises, they’re just make-work projects. If I feel like writing but have nothing concrete in my head, I just pick up the pen and let some stuff come out.

It’s pretty rare that I have nothing concrete in my head. There are a lot of stories waiting to be told.

There were 5 other writers there. We did three exercises, each one taking about 20 minutes. Two of the writers “finished”, and then waited for the rest of us. The other three writers, like me, took the whole 20 minutes for each exercise; even if we were “finished”, a piece can be re-written forever. There is always a better word, a better syntax, a forgotten idea that will make the piece sing. You could tell, when they read, which writers were really happy with what they’d done because they sat up straight and read loudly, which beatific smiles on their faces.

They came up with some really good stuff.

What I discovered, though, is that I liked doing the exercises. The first exercise was to take the World’s Worst Poem (according to Google) and “fix it”. The second one was to write about two pens, without using the word pen; one writer came up with this utterly brilliant piece on ecology, all from two dollar store pens tossed on the table. The last one was to write about a picture (cut out of the Mississauga News) from the perspective of three different characters. I couldn’t get my 89-year-old character to work very well; the 9-year-old and the 29-year-old were pretty good.

Weird about the writers who stopped writing, though. If you put a pen and a piece of paper in my hand, you’ll probably have to take them out of my hand before I’ll stop writing; it’s like a compulsion. While I may get to a point where I put the pen down, it’s only so I can warm my hands on the tea mug while I think about what to do with the words next. I admit I was sort of tempted to ask why those people were in a writers’ group if they didn’t get off on writing. But I can’t do that. They’re allowed to be there. I don’t have to understand them, though, which is a good thing.

Maybe they just don’t like that tingly feeling that runs from head to toe when the words finally get in that wonderful arrangement where they make your heart rush.

So, if “writer” is defined by being published, I ain’t one; if it’s defined by being printed, I’m okay; if it’s defined by thinking that 20 minutes isn’t enough to perfect a writing exercise, I’m real good.

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