I have had people over the years ask me what it is like to be a writer. I always find that question interesting because I don’t think about it; being a writer is just who I am. I think I was born to write. I know I was born to tell stories.
My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Richardson, pushed me into writing with the threat, “Put your ideas on paper and stop disrupting my class, or you’re gonna spend another year right here, in my classroom.” I can still see her mustached upper lip snarling at me and her piercing black eyes flashing with punishable seriousness.
I have always had my own ideas about everything from the time I can remember. I watched. I listened. I commented on everything (whether anyone was listening), and if I didn’t comment verbally, I had a continual inner dialogue going on in my head. Words, words, words, thoughts and ideas went along with reading stacks of books.
I always thought if I went to school in the 90s and not the 60s, they would have probably had me on a drug, and I would have sported a label. Gratefully, I had parents who took my nosy, commenting energy and turned me into a storyteller.
Sitting on a street bench with my mother, we would “people watch” and tell each other complete stories that we were sure were true. At an early age, I felt like Sherlock Holmes, watching, listening, and observing limps, broken heels, scars, and scratches. I went to lunch and sat in locations where I could eavesdrop and overhear conversations, picking out accents, attitudes, and storylines.
People today often mistake my self-inflicted, solitary life for aloofness or arrogance. It is not that; I just want to watch, smell, hear, taste, and feel everything that is going on around me completely.
It is often difficult for writers to turn off the writer inside to socialize or be with groups of friends or even family. I know that sounds strange, but the demanding part of my work pulls me, secretly, into the viewpoint of strangers. Sometimes, playing with my imaginary friends, my characters is just so interesting.
Writers to communicate must observe, smell the flowers, and hear the bees to have something to write about.
So, when asked what it is like to be a writer, I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled something about being weird and just a nosy observer.