I Am Not a Writer
My love of words and language goes back many years, at least to elementary school. Like most kids who love words and stories, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I held on to this dream for many years, till sometime in college when I made a startling discovery about myself: I don’t actually like to write all that much. My creative writing class was fun, but I never managed to sit down and produce anything substantial—it was just so much work, and there were so many other things I’d rather spend my time doing.
As you can imagine, this is not the best attitude for an aspiring writer to have. If I spend so much time avoiding writing, when was I ever going to become a writer? Surely novels weren’t going to spring fully formed from my forehead. About the same time, I also realized that most of the ideas bouncing around in my head were highly derivative—they were all not unlike other stories I had read. As you can imagine, this is also problematic for an aspiring writer.
What I was really doing was taking other ideas and tweaking them a bit; in other words, I was editing. The good news is that during my freshman year, I had gotten a job editing for Independent Study, and not only did I love it, but I excelled at it. Here was something that was perfect for me: I was able to work with words and make them better, but I didn’t have to do all that tedious writing-from-scratch stuff.
It wasn’t until I learned about Peircian semiotics, along with its accompanying personality paradigm, that it finally made sense to me. As a purple with green undertones, I love systems. I especially love fixing things to make them more correct and systematic. To me, a well-written story or poem is a beautiful thing, and I love to sit and think about what made it good and what could make it better. But writing something myself? That takes a lot of work, and it doesn’t come very naturally to me.
It’s a lot easier when I’m writing personal stuff like blog entries, because then there’s not so much pressure to be creative—all I really need is an opinion or an event to write about. I’m still not a very prolific blogger, of course, probably because I don’t have a lot of blog-worthy opinions or events in my life (in my opinion).
The problem is that most people see no real difference between writing and editing. Many people—including writers and editors—believe that if you’re good at one, you’re good at the other. To some extent this is true. What is apparently not true, though, is that someone who finds editing to be easy will also find writing to be easy.
Unfortunately, I’ve been looking for a decent editing job for over a year now, and the only jobs anyone ever contacts me about are writing jobs—proposal writing, copy writing, technical writing, it doesn’t matter—and I don’t want those jobs. I don’t like them. I’m not good at them. And I wish there were an easy way to communicate that.