About Writers

Why Don’t I Just Write, or, What Is That Character Up To Now?

I thought I would have more time to write after I left my day job. I’m not writing that much. I’ve had a few non-fiction pieces appear in local journals. I sent my first novel to a publisher, and I’m waiting to hear. I’m working on three short stories, with one planned for submission to a literary journal at a local college. I will read at two upcoming writers’ group meetings, and I’ve been asked to participate on a writers’ panel in March. But I can’t think of a story line for another novel. I haven’t been writing.

I tell myself I am busy. The farm chores occupy a good part of every day. I volunteer my time at four not-for-profits. I’ve been elected to the board of directors of one of them. Then there’s the garden work and the trout fishing and the horse training in their seasons. There are some inside house painting projects on tap. The days are full. But that’s just an excuse.

When I should be writing I am surfing the web and listening to YouTube videos of Janice Joplin and of the Ronettes. So, why don’t I just sit down and write?

I’ve been purging old work files and I found the interest and skill inventories and psychological assessments I took before being hired to my last job. I don’t remember reading this stuff, until now.

Wow. Now I know why none of the consulting psychologists would meet with me alone. It was a small firm, and the whole company was in the room for my sanitized, in person briefing on the results. The written report describes a not-quite-so-smart and a little bit crazy Sheldon Cooper.

But let’s move to the part about writing. The assessments determined that I had both an interest in and the capacity to be a writer. That was just the start. There’s more.

I want other people to like me, but it doesn’t much matter to me if they don’t. I won’t change my thinking, or what I’m doing, to please others.

I don’t start stuff. I’m satisfied with watching events develop around me, and only then formulating a response. I’m reactive, not assertive.

I’m satisfied with my standing in society. I don’t need to be out front. I’m the funny looking guy at the edge of the crowd. I don’t like to be called out by name on a trout stream or on the street. I have enough friends and a small and appreciative readership, and I don’t have a driving need to add to those groups.

I’m okay with my economic status. More money is not a motivator. I don’t need to be rich. I don’t expect to make any real money as a writer, and that’s okay.

I like to make things. At the end of the week I like to point to something tangible and say, “I made that.” It’s easier to do that with a new horse shed or a line of pasture fence than it is with a story.

The report suggests that I might have been a forester or a farmer. Horses are honest and direct, without the duplicity of the corporate office. Why didn’t I have this report forty years ago? I worked in an office because I could do the work and because I needed an income. I might have been happier at something else, away from people.

Am I a product of nature or nurture? There have been other guys like me in my family, so maybe it’s in the genes. But then there were calamities early in my life, and I have developed defenses. That one’s a toss up.

I’m looking in a mirror with the help of the psychologists’ report. It’s an odd reflection, but not one I need to change. It’s a powerful thing to know myself. It’s a powerful thing to know where I’ve been, and to know what I’ve come to, and to know that it’s okay. Maybe it’s okay that I’m not writing anymore.

I bought a book a few years ago that was supposed to help me write about characters. The book is a thinly disguised review of the sixteen Meyers-Briggs personality types. I dug out the book to see what it had to say about me. The book was generally accurate, I would say.

Then I started reading about some of those other Meyers-Briggs types, and looking at how they might interact with other people, older or younger, of the same or opposite gender, same or different personality types. What is it with those darn “E”s anyway?

Okay, now I have an idea. Let’s get that next story started.