To be a writer, you always have to have something to say.
That’s what being a writer is.
And when you have something to say, you have to say it. And you have to use your best skills to say it well.
I took years and years to collect and organize what I wanted to say. I gathered thoughts and ideas by being a public school teacher. Not just talking to and learning from a select few kids, but every kid and any kid that God saw fit to throw in front of me. Even the crazy ones and the evil ones.
And then, I had to decide how to say what I was going to say.
Would I write an autobiography? Like retired teacher Frank McCourt did with Angela’s Ashes?
Or would I try to fight against my prosaic inclinations and write poetry like Walt Whitman did with Leaves of Grass?
Or maybe essays like Henry David Thoreau in Walden?
Or would I try to explain my world view and the wisdom it contained through fiction like Harper Lee did with To Kill a Mockingbird?
Obviously, I lean heavily towards fiction. Of my 19 published books, only two of them are not fiction. The ones that are not, Laughing Blue (barely visible in the terrible photo,) and Mickey’s Rememberries are both made up of the best essays from this blog.
And since I am now published, both through publishing companies and as a self-published author through Amazon KDP, I can examine my work and it’s public impact to try to determine what kind of a writer I really am.
Looking at this totally scientific graphic shamelessly borrowed from someone else who borrowed it shamelessly on Twitter, I can safely say I am not The Greasy Palm (I am a terrible salesman, proven by my book sales numbers every single month since I learned how to read that,) The Ray of Sunshine (My books only fly off the shelves during tornados and earthquakes,) or The Bitter Failure (because I am too ignorantly happy with myself most of the time to be that.)
So, hmm… that leaves….
Well, I confess to Space Cadet. That is what helps me be happy. And I do get enraged by some of the things that I am moved to write about, but I am definitely not a journalist. I prefer fiction.
But that last one is the most likely. Assuming I am actually Creative and Talented, and not just deluded. I definitely don’t have anyone advocating my literary genius. And my house does not have a basement. My bedroom prison during the pandemic is on the second floor.
So, what would I be if I were not a writer?
I would make a good time traveler.
It seems I always know exactly what I would change if I had a time machine disguised as a soda-vending dispenser that, for a quarter, could take me back in time to do-over points in my life.
I would ask her to dance with me in Miss Malkin’s Music Class instead of chickening out.
I would have told him that he saved my life when he answered my phone call that Saturday afternoon. I never actually told him I was thinking about killing myself, and probably would have done it if he hadn’t been there to prove to me that I had friends who cared enough…
I would tell my much younger self that I would not regret deciding to be a teacher instead of a cartoonist.
I might have made a good nudist. I like being dressed only in sunlight and good nature. I wrote a book about being a nudist. You can see it in the picture where I am trying to make you believe I am nude while holding it. Actually I had pants on. But that is not nearly as funny. I gave up notions of naturism in order not to have parents look at me funny while telling them about their “wonderful kids” during parent/teacher conferences.
What would I actually be if I couldn’t be a writer? I really have no non-joke ideas. I need to be a writer, even if nobody wants to read it.