What a dream it would be to sit down and write the perfect opening sentence. The truth is I have time to eat, sleep, and email but no time to actually write. I am a writer who doesnít write. I call myself the Non-Writer.
Reading is the vital skill of the non-writer. In particular, I read books on how to write. If You Want To Write, I'd Rather Be Writing, and Pen on Fire contribute to my expertise. I study writing magazines, with highlighter in hand. Books of quotations and writing exercises provide additional inspiration. While writers may dream of publication and book signings, I imagine myself on a breezy mountaintop, or perhaps at the beach, with a notebook in my lap and a blank page filled.
Just as writers write in solitude, I non-write in private, too. This is because I must defend my non-writing passion when my husband asks, "Why don't you stop reading about writing and just write?" Or when he says, "I'm going to write a novel (screenplay, children's book, song lyric, greeting card) before you. I'm just going to sit down and do it." But then how would I finish all the laundry, mail reading, phone warming, and shower curtain sponging?
When I finally do sit down to write something, it is usually a small stanza that the well-read non-writer knows is called a haiku. Then instead of writing, I must edit, query, revise, market and submit the Poem of All Poems over the next several years. Surfing the net for contests, browsing magazine racks for literary periodicals, and developing a spreadsheet in Excel to track submissions is key. Participating in internet critique forums is crucial. Trips to stationery mega stores for fluorescent-colored post-its are required.
Non-writing takes practice too, and there are no awards for non-writers.
Unlike real writers who are proficient with pens and pencils, I invest time and money in a freestanding keyboard word processor called the Dana that I donít quite know how to use. Hot syncing my poem from the Palm-operated Dana to my computer is laborious, and if I forget to re-charge my Dana, as often happens to a non-writer like me, I lose everything I haven't written.
As a non-writer, I am left frozen in a distant universe of having the words, just not in any written form. I am an environmentalist who doesn't waste paper or fill landfills with ink cartridges.
On vacations, instead of putting pen to paper and becoming the travel writer of my dreams, I visit authors' homes for more inspiration. In Key West, I marveled at Hemingway's 6-toed cats, and the way he drank all night at bars, slept late, and wrote in the afternoons. In Rome, I explored the home of Keats who was well published by age twenty-five, when he died of tuberculosis.
Lucky me, I don't write too much. Look at what happened to Keats and Hemingway.