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Running Away From The Writer

October 18, 2013

I received a contract offer to write a book yesterday. I wouldn’t normally mention this if it weren’t for something my best friend said. I told him that I finally feel like I deserve the title of “writer.”

We’ve been friends for more than a decade. I’ve been telling you for all that time that you are a great writer. But, you’ve been running away from that writer for as long as I’ve known you. Glad you finally let him catch you.

Made me think.

When do you “become” the thing you are working on? I’ve written for as long as I can remember. At WordPerfect (Back to Where It All Began) I worked with a group that created the first WordPerfect Office course. It wasn’t our “real” job, we were SWAT team members, flying around the country solving customer problems. (How I Saved The EPA, Sometimes You Just Get Lucky.) At this same time, I wrote two books, one of which was published. (WordPerfect 6.0 SuperBook as Milan Keeney.)

At Microsoft, I worked in Support and while there wrote another book. (Microsoft Exchange Connectivity Guide.) From support I went to a team where my job was to do write ups of Microsoft customer company configurations. I did about 50 of them. I actually hated that job. During the initial interview my future boss threatened to fire me.

Anyone who doesn’t pull their weight won’t be on this team for long.

Yes, he said that in the initial interview. And by the end, firing seemed like an attractive option. It took me many years to forgive that manager and apologize for my behavior. (Finally Putting Down The Rock.)

My next position was to write training materials for Microsoft Exchange. I created dozens of courses that were literally thousands of pages long. . .and I had a BLAST doing it. It was the best job I’ve ever had.

I’ve written for magazines. I’ve written comedy. I’ve written speeches.

And yet. . .and yet. . .there was always this doubt. This idea that maybe, just maybe I’ve been fooling them. Maybe on my next writing project “they” will show up and tell me that they’ve figured out that I’m a fraud. That’s what we fear isn’t it?

We fear that our success is an illusion. That we don’t really deserve it

I think part of my problem is that writing comes easy to me. I remember one night I was working late at Microsoft writing a report on a company and listening to the radio. The DJ was a young women who lived in a tent. . .I didn’t ask. Anyway, she had spent the day with the drummer from the band Lone Star several years earlier and the band was coming to Seattle and she was trying to figure out how to reconnect with him without sounding like a dorky fan girl.

I called the station and talked to her for just a few minutes.

I’ll write your letter. Give me about 30 minutes.

And I created a letter that touched on the past, and let her express her interest without being too corny or sounding like a fan. Apparently musicians want to date real people rather than fans.

Even when I started this blog, one of my close friends who was helping me craft a focus and find my voice asked

Are you in danger of running out of stuff to write about?

Not so far. I have a file of blog topics. It’s longer today than it was when I started.

Maybe it’s the image of “writer.” None of us have to be unemployed if we want to call ourselves a “writer.” They are often the exact same thing, just the writer occasionally thinks about putting words on paper. There are thousands of waiters in LA who want to be actors. The writers are typically too introverted to take the waiter jobs.

The last few months as I’ve considered my writing history and future career I’ve often come back to writers in movies. Chaucer, as played by Paul Bethany in “A Knight’s Tale” has been an inspiration.

A what? A writer. I write with pen and parchment. You’ve probably read my book, “Book of the Duchess.” No? Well it was allegorical.

You want to know the most amazing part? I LOVE being a writer. I just have a hard time giving myself permission to embrace that writer. As my friend said, I’ve been running from him for decades. Today, I let him catch up. We’re going to spend some time together with a keyboard.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant, and he’s a writer. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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  1. Good stuff, I feel the same way in some respects about being a writer. Although it is not my profession (working as an engineer by day), I find it hard sometimes to acknowledge my role as a writer. I am getting better though with each subsequent blog post that I publish.

    The bottom line, however, is finding what makes you come alive and then doing it. For me, that is writing and I will continue to do so as I fuel all so many other endeavors in my life.

    Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring words!

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