How do you become a writer?
Oh, you want more? You read and write. Most of the time, you love it, but sometimes it’s hard and frustrating and you’ll think your well’s gone dry and you’ll never write another decent sentence again. But there’s no way around it (unless you’re one of those writers who publishes one brilliant book, wins a Pulitzer, then never writes another word because the love wasn’t there—these people are freaks).
Publication doesn’t make you a writer, either. The trick is to be a writer before you get published. You’ll know when you are a writer because a big, blue dot appears on your forehead (oops, that’s what I tell my kids when they’ve told a lie)—you’ll know it when a part of your brain separates itself from The Main Brain and begins to function independently. It will whir and click in the background as it messes with daily life. You will feed the dog lamb chops with mashed potato and your children will get dog biscuits and a worming chew.
Mostly, writers love what they do and we can’t stop. You’re not a writer if you go around saying ‘I’m going to write a book one day, when real life stops getting in my way.’ You are one if you don’t let life get in the way. Give up things like television, shopping, meaningful relationships. Writing is like a virus—once you catch it, it’s in the blood. In the beginning, you have to go out of your way to catch it (like sending your kids to a pox party), but once you have it will be life-changing and irreversible.