Sunday, August 16, 2015

Memories Like These Make My Life Sacred

What it Means to be a Writer

It is often said that to be a writer one must read, write, read, and then write some more. Let's get realistic, in order to be a writer one must write. Reading is research. Reading helps inspire creativity. Reading teaches writing style. Reading gives you a sense of direction. But, in order for a person to be considered a writer, you have to write. End of story.
I'm in no way advocating that a person should not read. On the contrary, reading is essential to development. Reading is the teacher. Writing is the student. Reading is what I call on the job training. Reading opens you up to new possibilities. Reading directs you on the path to becoming a better writer, but writing hones that skill.
I am currently in this month of challenge in which I have taken on the responsibility of writing a page a day in hopes of creating content to be used at a later time, once it has been refined. You would think a page a day would be easy, but it is not when you've exhausted your mind. I find that reading stimulates my mind, refreshes my creativity, but depletes me of time. I feel like I've been juggling time lately.
I've been going through my rough drafts of stories I had intended to write, but put on hold when my job as bartender became more of a demand on my time. That was the primary reason I quit my night job. I wasn't making significant strides in developing a solid career path for myself, and now I am, but I work considerably harder than I did when I worked there.
At the time, when I first started working in the hospitality field, I was attending school in order to further my knowledge in business and fitness. I would bring my schoolwork to work and work on it during my lunch break. I would sit in the break room with a book and a notebook, and you could easily find me at a table reading the book or writing something. I was new, it was before I knew anyone. I wasn't being anti-social. I wanted to write. My creative writing teacher had really lit a fire inside of me. I was using every spare moment to get something written. I would get off work at midnight, make it home by one, and I still had to get homework done before school the next morning. It was exhausting. 
Eventually, I wasn't new anymore; I had people who wanted to sit and have lunch with me. There were those who would hang out at my bar just to chit chat. Honestly, I didn't mind the conversation, but I did have to stop writing on my lunch breaks. I was constantly interrupted while I was in a writing flow, or stopped while I was editing, and I'd get so distracted I'd lose my train of thought. I don't regret my time in the hospitality field because I learned how to be a great bartender. It's a useful skill. I can find a job anywhere if being a writer doesn't work out. I can open up my own party service, a catering service, but making drinks. It wasn't wasted time. I met really great people working there. I cherish those memories.
But I wasn't writing near as much during my eight years of service as I had in the years before, not that the writing bug ever left me, but I had to balance my time, and it wasn't always easy. Anyone who has ever worked in a kitchen knows that it can get chaotic, and sometimes at the end of a brutal shift all you want to do is go home and sleep.
As I sit here writing this, I'm smiling because I have eight years worth of notes written on micros paper sitting in front of me, sentences and dialogue, and I'm not sure what stories I had planned to put them in. Even in the middle of chaos, I would stop, and jot down notes as the ideas came to me. I'd put those notes in my pants pocket and try to remember to pull them out before I threw my work pants into the laundry. You can't stop a writer from writing.
When you are a writer, writing is like breathing air; it's what keeps your spirit alive, what makes your heart beat. Your mind is filled with words that have no meaning until you sit down and your soul bleeds them out through your heart. Writing is a way of life. A writer is drawn to writing, sometimes despite our best efforts to pull away from it.
You will find us scribbling endless thoughts on scrap paper, writing during our lunch breaks, talking to ourselves while pacing because we are trying to figure out how to plot a story, and sitting at our computers for hours at a time pounding out words on a keyboard hoping they make sense to the story we are writing. We write because we need to write.