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MARIELENA ZUNIGA: I AM A WRITER

May 13, 2011

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.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2011 12:57 PM

    It’s so nice to hear from you, Marielena. Thanks for the reminder that it’s writing that makes you a writer, not publication or recognition by someone else, but the voice within that refuses to be silent.

    • Marielena permalink
      May 13, 2011 1:06 PM

      Thanks so much, Sandy. Your comments about writing (“the voice within that refuses to be silent”) are eloquent and on point, as usual. Am eagerly awaiting “Left at Oz,” your newest book.

  2. May 13, 2011 2:28 PM

    It took me a long time to admit being a writer. Now when I tell people, even friends, they all say “I would love to write a book! I have such a great idea.” And I encourage them and tell them to do it – that if I can anyone can. But they never do. I think the msytique is the fact that everyone would love to write but many don’t have the real drive or discipline to do so. In a way they’re living out their fantasy through talking to us.

    • Marielena permalink
      May 13, 2011 2:40 PM

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your wonderful comments, Loni. Sometimes, I don’t know if non-writers realize that “writing” of any kind is indeed hard work — but — it also can be fun and pleasureable because at the end of the day, we can say, “I wrote that!”

  3. May 17, 2011 8:45 PM

    I love the people who ask “how is your book coming?”. What it means to me is that they know and respect that I’m a writer. Most people seem to be surprised. I can’t imagine why.

    I enjoyed your post.

    • Marielena permalink
      May 19, 2011 6:33 AM

      Thanks for sharing your comments, Marilynne — and isn’t it wonderful to be asked that question (“How’s your book coming?”) That means you are creatively involved in the writing process. So glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. May 18, 2011 4:48 AM

    I can sympathize with your having to squeeze in a few minutes at a time. I write technical material (where I try to keep the fiction to a minimum) by day, and it’s hard to switch at night. I do better in the early mornings but time is too short. I wish you well with your fiction. I’m sure your persistence will pay though. Keep at it!

    • Marielena permalink
      May 18, 2011 6:51 AM

      Thanks so much, Ellis! And thanks for stopping by and for your comments and words of encouragement. How nice to know another writer (work by day/creative by early morning/night) understands this challenge. I wish you well with your fiction, too!

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