I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

It takes a million

Rapp
So, I asked myself, have I written a million words?

Well, actually, I have written a hell of a lot more than a million.

Considering my first published piece ran twenty-eight years ago, and what it took to get to that first byline, I was probably up to million way back then.

I did the math.
All I’d have to have done, since then, is average a little less than a hundred words a day. Piece of cake my friends, piece of store baked or homemade for sure.

I remember the moment someone told me I was a writer.

Up to that point I wanted to be a writer, thought about it, read about it, learned, learned, learned and dreamt every day and every night of being a writer.  

Over thirty-five years ago I started a very daunting project, a fictionalized real life portrait of Father George Rapp, head of the Harmony Society, a utopian community in Pennsylvania. Good old George is my uncle (10 or 11 generations back), with a direct descendant connection to my father and grandfather as a pathway to unimaginable riches. (Long but very interesting story).

The scope of the story was so vast that this writer’s burgeoning ability was a bit frail for the scope of the project. I wasn’t sure where to start so I just wrote from my research based on family records, library research and first account journal entries after visiting the actual village in western PA.

A few months into the project my mother’s brother, Chet, came to visit us from California. He was a big wig in a missile company. Selling war or protection, it was the same thing, and of little concern to me at the time. All I know is that I respected his intellect and thought of him as brilliant.

At the table one night my father brought up the news that I was writing a book about George Rapp. Chet wanted to read some pages so before he headed to bed I gave him my first thirty. I didn’t sleep that night. It felt like Christmas Eve.

Next morning, alone at the kitchen table, full coffee cups in front of us, he placed the thin stack of pages in front of him upside down. He removed the last three and set them on the table in front of me, right side up. Pointing to an underlined paragraph at the bottom of the page he spoke the magical words which patterned my life from then on.

“This is where you became a writer.”

It was a gruesome scene, and there is some doubt as to the historical circumstances but now, all these years later, the actual writing doesn’t matter as much as Chet’s comments solidifying my decision to write.

The mission to chronicle Rapp, and our family’s personal connection to the mind and power of a brilliant utopian madman, fell away as ideas and dreams often do. But Chet’s words still byline my writer’s self-definition.

I became a writer a couple of million words ago.

When did you become a writer?

4 comments:

  1. When I was 11 years old and wrote what would now (I guess) be called 'fan fiction' for a school assignment. I wrote a mystery a la Trixie Belden. My friends moaned about doing it but I loved every moment. I've been writing ever since.
    I didn't think of myself as a writer though - it was just something I did. It wasn't until much more recently that I started to think of myself as a writer.

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    1. You are definitely a writer and a good one.
      Funny how some of us early on know we like to write, know we do it pretty well, and yet we have to grow into it or have someone else (like I did) validate our efforts as being something of value.

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  2. What an amazing thing for Chet to have said! (and not at all what I was expecting, from the set up)

    I think I may have become a writer when I decided the fantasy novel I'd started in middle school and written up through high school (so, 8-12 grade) was more of a learning experience than something anything anybody would read.

    I did some writing other than the fantasy novel during that time, little things for school (there was no creative writing program), a brief "series" of mystery stories, but it wasn't until Freshman year of college when I set that novel aside and struck out again that I feel like I became a writer.

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    1. Jennifer, good for you. Sometimes people write for years and still do not call themselves writers. The learning curve for some, is greater than for others, but it's one of those things that soaks in by emersion. Huh, I'm getting all fancy with wordy thoughts. I'll stop now.

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