I Write

Please tell us something about yourself (approx. 500 words).

Like I said, I’m inept. I don’t tie my shoelaces. I don’t understand seat belts. I can’t change tires. I can’t cook or fish or dance or sing or act or lie. I don’t see how a plane can stay in the air or how it can land. I don’t know how to paint or sculpt, and I can’t take pictures unless the camera beeps. I’m about as practical as a socialist and as self-absorbed as, well, a writer.I am a writer.That means I sit alone for hours on end, eyes bloodshot with red coffee stains. It means I run my hand through my hair intellectually, fawning over the character I’ve just created. Pretty soon, there’s sweat on my forehead (brow, if you prefer) and then on my fingers, then the keys. I rub my hands against my shorts. I push the chair back. I clap. I whisper an obscenity because I know I can get away with it. My eyes close. I think. I realize that the story must turn a certain way. Or I understand that the word “antisocial” is clearer than “misanthropic.” I see something I hadn’t seen before. My fingers twitch, and then it’s there in front of me.I’ve written a story about a character who feels the need to bite his own thumb. I feel so enthusiastic about this awkward fiction that I needlessly decided to put the word “bite” in italics. Another character I own taps his spoon against a glass. I tried to have the rhythm of the story match the subtle tapping of a spoon against a glass. The character has to be able to breathe in his surroundings. He lives there, of course.The “catch” to working with my own character creations is that the more fascinated I become with these imaginary people, the more indignant I can become towards real people. I can fall into the repetitive trap of feeling as if I could have created this teacher or that friend. As a result, I have heard people describe me as discourteous, ungrateful, and, condescending. When I make an attempt to change behaviors, it can often seem superficial, and I alienate people who matter to me.But, when I find myself quiet and listening, nodding or shaking my head in agreement or in anger, when I find myself across a table from somebody who speaks authoritatively but openly, when I find myself at best challenged and at worst intimidated by a character who actually exists outside of my head, then the condescension, the rudeness, the writer’s ego, disappear, and I become fascinated. I try to remember everything said, and everything I thought of at the time. I want to take the person home and describe him or her until I run out of ink. “Antisocial” truly is a better word than “misanthropic.”The characters in my writings are real to me also. I know them well. They stomp around in my head until I express them, and then they linger still. It is this lingering that convinces me over and over again that I am a writer. It is my love of the charactersand who they representthat convinces me that I could one day be an excellent writer.

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