when did you decide to be a writer?

People ask me, “When did you decided to be a writer?”  And my answer is, “I didn’t actually decide, I just kind of stumbled into it.”  Actually, I think I was a Writer-In-Training most, if not all of my life.  I, as I’ve said before, have, since I could remember, been enthralled by stories.  I grew up sitting at the knee of my grandfather, aunts and uncles, all of which were great story tellers who passed on the family’s oral history—possibly traits passed down from our Celtic roots.  I consequently grew up with sort of an imbued sense of how to spin a yarn—tell a story.  Where ever it originated, I seem to have inherited this story-telling gene. A knack, I might add, that helped me succeed in one of my many occupations, bartending. A good bartender better be able to do three things, pour an ounce free-hand, make your till add up right, and tell a good story.  All of which I did with pretty high proficiency, so I’ve been told. Anyway, moving from telling tales to writing them down seemed for me to be a natural progression. That was the easy part.

 The next step, honing the craft of writing, has and still is a matter of spending hours and hours writing. Ah, but wait, there’s more… A writer must decide what to write! When I grow up will I be a novelist? Or will I be a poet, or maybe a Playwright? Or a Screenwriter? Which discipline fits me? My style? My voice? But I didn’t ask any of those questions. I did what I usually do… Not being a toe-tester, I just sort of jumped in with both feet.  At the time I was going through a traumatic divorce… I call it my ‘Angst’ period. No I wasn’t an adolescent at the time… that was a different angst period, I was in my 30s.  During my poetry-period I wrote a lot of poetry, most of it bad or very bad, but toward the end of my poetry period I managed some good verse.  But good or bad, I discovered what the majority of poets learn about writing poetry; you can’t make much money at it. So, I decided to set my sails in a new direction.Hollywood was calling. You guessed it, I decided to try my hand at screenplays. I spent the next several years learning about screenplays and how to write them.  And write them I did and still do… some on my own some with a writing-partner, over 20 to date.  And now my partner and I are adapting our screenplays in to novels. Oh, and did I mention, I have embarked on writing a play, “Will You Be Staying For Supper?”

 I started out this post, about people asking me: “When did you decided to be a writer?”  Thinking about it, I’d have to say the moment I decided I had something to say, worth writing down.


5 responses to “when did you decide to be a writer?

  1. Wally, it’s always interesting to see how people respond to that question. I grew up in a family of storytellers as well, so I guess when I got the call to write, it was also natural for me to do it. But, like you, I started writing poetry and short stories and switched to novels much, much later.


  2. I was about to agree and say poetry and short stories were my entrée, but then I remember pounding out a play on a clunker of a typewriter at my neighbor, Timmy’s house. I was about Wyatt Earp and the OK Coral. We intended to perform it on my family’s patio until logistics—actors, costumes, rehearsals—proved too much for a couple of nine-year-olds. Nonetheless, it planted the seed.

    My first attempt at a novel—serious writing—did not follow until I was about fifty. I think it takes a level of maturity backed by enough experience. Any number of other writers, including some of my fellow bloggers, arrived at that point much earlier. I arrived when I could. *sigh*

  3. Thanks for the post Wally. I decided to write because I loved to read and thought it would be very cool to make people feel the way I felt when reading my favorite writers – Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Marquis de Sade.

    It took a long time to actually put it into practice, but it’s wonderful to finally be here.


  4. I didn’t decide to be a writer. I just wrote. 🙂

    The minute I learned how to spell and string sentences together, I was off! Some of the stories I wrote in first grade are pretty darned funny!

  5. And in the end, it’s all about sharing… passing it on for others to enjoy and learn from.


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