The funny thing about being a writer


The funny thing about being a writer, and not being another kind of creative person, is that in addition to creating something remarkable you also have to use words. My words developed at two-years-old in the form of ma-ma, bye-bye, pweeze, and tank ewe, but, at least in the first decade of my life, they were no more capable of becoming something marvelous than my crooked teeth were. But part of what I love about both words and teeth is that they can be polished, rearranged, extracted, and replaced to make a beautiful masterpiece. We put work into them, and they shine. It isn't their responsibility to scramble themselves about into the perfect position.

What I did was simple enough: I started writing. At first, I thought the key would be to write without the need to rewrite, and so I worked to string words together like a slow-moving train until they followed one behind the other zigzagging down the page. And I was right, words get into position through careful consideration, but if you deny revision, they never come off the page.

The buck teeth that poked out of the open space of your gums, you're stuck with them.

Once I realized a protruding mouth wasn't the answer, I bought myself a pack of colored pens—the kind certain personality types use for yearly planners, to-do lists, and sermon notes—and performed the procedure. I probed and prodded. I scaled, scraped, and sealed. I cut, and I filed. I polished and refined—substituted and replaced—until the piece that was nothing became a work of art.