MARIELENA ZUNIGA: I AM A WRITER
When people ask me what I do for a living and I say that I’m a writer, there’s usually a pause in the conversation. Their faces light up with curiosity. “Really? Who do you write for?” they ask. “What do you write?”
I’m always intrigued by people’s responses. What is it about the writing life that so impresses people? If I had said I was a teacher or nurse, reputable professions that require equally hard work, would people have been so interested?
First, let me state: I am a writer. It took me years to even claim that. Why? Because I divide my writing into two camps. The first camp is the writing I’ve been doing for a living the last 35-plus years. This writing has been on staff for newspapers, magazines, freelancing and in businesses. It pays the bills.
The second camp is my creative writing. This is where my heart and soul are. I want to be able to tell people, “Yes, I’m a writer and here are the books I’ve written and published.” While this hasn’t happened (yet), I share in the common struggle of all writers who earn their living in the profession. At the end of the day the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer and pound out more words.
But I have been. I’ve been squeezing out 10 or 15 minutes at a time on a new novel that has a healthy dose of magical realism. Sometimes I knock out a few pages at the beginning of my work day. Sometimes at the end of the day. But I’m determined to finish this book, no matter how much “other writing” I’ve tackled in the previous eight hours.
So, to get back to my original question: Why are people so impressed by writers? I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with the “mystique” around writing. At one time, only the Egyptian and Hebrew Scribes or the monks of Ireland were somehow deemed special enough to carry forth knowledge in the written word.
Thank God that’s no longer true today. You, too, can write a book. It will be hard work. But it will be cause for celebration. Why? Because you ARE writing, whether you’re published or not. And when someone asks you what you do, you can proudly step forward and claim: I am a writer.