Friday, September 14, 2007


How do you know you're a writer; when does it hit you? How can you be sure it's what you should take up? And once you have taken up the pen, what keeps you going? The writing life is filled with pitfalls and potholes, especially in the wallet. So why do people do this thing? Why live iwth the torture and the pain and the years of fasting?

In my creative writing classes I could always spot them. The few, the brave, the mad, and the ones with the disease--those who did not choose writing so much as writing chose them. These people breath it, live it, are constantly living inside their heads, and this makes for difficulty in relationships, I can assure you. Then there were the students who thought it be cool to be a writer. Those whlo didn't breath it in and out with their life's blood but rather wore it like a cloatk, a kind of ownership. These ones often wore what they thought appropriate attire for a writer. But they did not live it and breath it and swallow it with their food. They did not take it with them when they left; did not wake up with it in the morning. They did not take it with them on every family trip, vacation, job interview; they simply were not Walter Mitty enough to daydream and sketch out scenes in their heads at every opportunity and the interval between waiting for the bus and the bus's arrival.

Some writers, to be sure, are more intense than ohters, but every successful author I know is just that, intense. Stuck in traffic, he's writing. Awaiting her nails to dry, she's writing. On a honeymoon iwth the new bride, he's writing. On a 25th Weddiing Anniversary in Hawaii, she's still gotta work--she's still gotta write at least a scene a day.

Writers are passionate about writing. It is not a horrific chore but rather a joy looked forward to, and it sure beats reality many or most of the time. The writer is by definition passionate, and he deals with all the huge, great, over the top emotions in his work--love, hate, revenge, courage, horror, cowardice, power, lust, and murder. The author's passion for the passions is his stock and trade. To play all the parts is the joy and the challenge at heart of writing fiction and long work in particular. And every author faces a Triathalon just to get a novel written but he and she are engaged in the "sport" they love. Being benched, being unable to write for whatever reason, now that is the horror of horrors for a real writer.

G'day and G'luck iwth all your writing, and be passionate about it!

Rob Walker
City of the Absent on sale for pre-order now! Available in stores for Christmas!

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