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?