I Don’t Want to Become a Writer

infinite loop

There’s something finite about the word, “become.” As if you need to reach a level or a stage to become an official writer. As if there’s an achievable height in writing. As if conquering a peak, or a dream. You can’t dream of becoming a writer. That can’t be ambition. Because there’s no such thing as “becoming — a — writer.”

Anyone who claims they’ve become a writer is only losing their grip on reality. Because once you become a writer, you lose the ability — and the privilege — to be writing.

I don’t want to become a writer. Instead, I want to write — I want to learn to write better, and better — until I die. It’s one infinite loop. No one becomes a writer. Because writing is naught without rewriting.

Shakespeare wrote plays, but he never became a playwright. He wrote plays and sonnets until he died. And then, other people rewrote his plays and sonnets; they refined his writing to make it better — or worse; I can’t say for sure.

But I’m sure Shakespeare never became a playwright. Because if he had “become a writer,” we wouldn’t have the classics we do now.

So then, what’s the deal with “becoming a writer”? Who fixes the standards for a writer?

Agatha Christie is a writer. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a writer. And so are Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh.

At what point did these people become writers? Writing a story, a book, or a piece of prose doesn’t make a writer. If that’s the threshold for becoming a writer, then every student who’s written an essay for their exam is a writer.

That doesn’t make a writer.

Real writers acknowledge the process. You publish a book, and perhaps rewrite the entire thing and republish it fifteen years later. That’s a writer.
A writer doesn’t just write. A writer rewrites. A writer knows her writing isn’t perfect and learns to learn from it, learns to live with it, and to write better with it.

I don’t want to become a writer. I want to be writing.


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