There’s the writer you have in your head and the writer you actually are.
In high school, my writerly ideal was F. Scott Fitzgerald, or really Amory Blaine in This Side of Paradise. I wanted to be cool like Fitzgerald, and a New York celebrity.
Then in college it was Jack Kerouac, or really Sal Paradise in On The Road. I wanted the freedom of the American road, with no strings attached, free to bounce as I pleased.
Then in grad school, it was Norman Mailer or really the persona of Norman Mailer. I wanted to write angry, I wanted to be on the ground for big political events, I wanted to be a public intellectual that wrote compelling essays about trends and events. And maybe I want to run for office.
More recently, it’s been David Ogilvy or at really Ogilvy’s ability to transform his creativity into money. That guy could write short, exact and piercing sentences that people paid tons of money for. What’s better than that?
I’m not really doing any of that. My life has changed and ebbed and flowed in different directions because I have different priorities than Fitzgerald, and that he was living a charmed life anyway.
Fitzgerald was pretty prolific however–I’m assuming he had to work hard at some point. Really put into the energy. There comes a point where you’re doing that or not. And I’m trying to do it. I’m trying to be the writer I always said I wanted to be.
I have topics and ideas to explore. I have places I want my writing to appear. I want to help others and hopefully they’ll help me, too.
People have probably written out action plans. Or made a list of goals. I don’t have anything that formal (should I?), I’m just moving forward with the time I have.
I’m not great with criticism, I’m often paralyzed by too many choices and I’m adding to my best practices all the time.
Sure, I look at older and younger writers and wonder how they did it. But I’ve made some different choices and had some different experiences. I’m okay with where I’m at. I have to be.
I’ll make some mistakes, miss some opportunities and not work as hard as I should. Those are givens. But I’ll keep going anyway.
An author. A journalist. A copywriter. A blogger. I’m proud of those things, but I can improve on each.
I’m trying to be the writer I always said I wanted to be.
The author on the Jersey Shore, March 2014